SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) The Detroit Tigers selected Auburn right-hander Casey Mize with the No. 1 pick in the Major League Baseball draft Monday night.
The announcement at MLB Network studios marked the second time the Tigers led off the draft, and first since they took Rice pitcher Matt Anderson in 1997.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Mize had long been linked to the Tigers, and he pitched his way this season to the top spot on Detroit’s list. Mize went undrafted out of high school three years ago, but developed into a potential big league ace while in college.
”It means a ton,” Mize said in an interview on MLB Network’s broadcast. ”I’m very thankful that the Tigers thought of me enough to take me with their first selection. I can’t describe this feeling right now.”
Mize is 10-5 with a 2.95 ERA and 151 strikeouts with just 12 walks in 109 2/3 innings while helping the Tigers to the NCAA Tournament super regionals. Mize has solid command of four pitches, including a fastball that hovers in the mid-90s (mph). His outstanding command and wicked split changeup whip up lots of swings and misses.
Mize became only the seventh player in draft history to go from undrafted in high school to the No. 1 pick since Stephen Strasburg went to the Washington Nationals in 2009.
”All of us in the Tigers organization are thrilled to select Casey with this pick, and are confident that he will become a pillar in our player development system that’s going to bring winning baseball to Detroit for seasons to come,” Detroit general manager Al Avila said. ”Being a college pitcher – especially coming from the Southeastern Conference – we know Casey has seen elite competition before.”
With the second selection, San Francisco took slugging Georgia Tech catcher Joey Bart, the Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year.
Bart led the conference in hitting with a .359 average and topped the Yellow Jackets with a .632 slugging percentage, 79 hits, 16 home runs, 55 runs and a .471 on-base percentage. He’s also one of the country’s best defensive catchers, with a .992 fielding percentage on the season while throwing out 12 of 33 would-be base stealers.
Wichita State third baseman Alec Bohm was the first of six players attending the draft to be selected, going third overall to Philadelphia.
Bohm is one of the top offensive players in the draft, hitting .339 with 16 homers – the most by a Wichita State player since 2004 – and 55 RBIs with 14 doubles and 39 walks. He also showed a knack for hitting in the clutch by setting a school record with three grand slams this year, and led the team with 10 go-ahead RBIs.
Oregon State second baseman Nick Madrigal went fourth to the Chicago White Sox.
Despite his short stature – 5-foot-7, 160 pounds – Madrigal is considered by many to be the best overall hitter in the draft. He rebounded nicely for the Beavers after missing half the season with a broken left wrist. He was hitting .406 with three homers, 32 RBIs and just five strikeouts in 133 at-bats while helping lead Oregon State to the NCAA Tournament super regionals.
Rounding out the top five was Cincinnati, which took Florida third baseman Jonathan India.
The Southeastern Conference player of the year has been an offensive force for the defending College World Series champions. He’s the 12th player in school history to post 20 or more homers, 100 or more RBIs and 30 or more stolen bases in his career.
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