The Tigers made Mize the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 Draft, signing the Auburn right-hander for $7.5 million after he had dominated SEC hitters as a junior to cap an outstanding college career. He reached Double-A early in his first full season and made headlines by firing a no-hitter in his Erie debut. But Mize's second half was derailed by right shoulder soreness, and his stuff was down when he finally returned. He opened the 2020 season at the alternate training site and made his highly anticipated big league debut on Aug. 19 against the White Sox. He went on to post a 6.99 ERA over seven starts, showing promise despite the underwhelming results.
Mize featured three plus pitches (fastball, splitter and slider) at Auburn and early in his pro career before adding a curveball and sinker to his arsenal in 2020. He sits around 93-94 mph but can touch 96 with his four-seam fastball and spots it well to both sides of the plate when he’s at his best. Mize’s plus slider plays nicely off his heater, registering in the upper-80s with late biting action, and his diving mid-80s splitter continues to be a nearly elite offering. He found success with all three pitches in the big leagues, albeit while operating with suboptimal control and command.
Mize’s elevated walk rate (4.1 BB/9) in the Majors was uncharacteristic for a pitcher who had issued fewer than two walks-per-nine in college (1.4) and the Minor Leagues (1.9), and his new sinker and curveball were his two hardest-hit pitches. With an improved feel for an arsenal that better emphasizes his strengths, Mize could begin to realize his potential in earnest in 2021.
2020 Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 60 | Splitter: 70 | Control: 60 | Overall: 65
Mize went from being an undrafted high schooler to the top pick in the nation three years later, going to the Tigers with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 Draft -- the organization's first No. 1 pick since 1997 (Matt Anderson) -- and signing for $7.5 million following a dominant junior campaign at Auburn. A lights-out performance back at Lakeland to begin his first full season netted Mize an early promotion to Double-A Erie, and he announced his arrival in the Eastern League by firing a no-hitter in his April 29 debut. But after allowing two earned runs or fewer in seven of his first eight starts with the SeaWolves, Mize departed his June 13 start with right shoulder discomfort and spent the next month on the shelf. And while he did make a healthy return in July, he also struggled to replicate his pre-injury success, pitching with slightly diminished stuff and command, which ultimately prompted Detroit to shut down its prized young hurler in August for the remainder of the season.
Mize's bread and butter is his splitter, a nearly elite pitch that registers in the mid-80s with outstanding late tumbling action that causes it to bottom out as it nears the plate, netting the right-hander plenty of whiffs and weak contact. He sets up his splitter with a 93-95 mph fastball that can touch 97, and his heater consistently plays up because he commands it with ease to both sides of the plate. Mize's mid-80s slider gives him a third plus offering, one that has steadily improved over the past two years, and he can manipulate it into a harder, high-80s cutter when he desires. Mize demonstrates exemplary command of his entire arsenal when he's at his best, issuing few walks while generating swinging strikes both inside and out of the zone.
Mize's shoulder issue was his second notable injury in the past three years after he was previously shut down at Auburn in 2017 (and again that summer with Team USA) due to a tired arm and flexor strain in his forearm. That combination of injuries has caused some evaluators to temper their expectations and projections, though the overall consensus continues to be that Mize is as good as any right-hander when healthy. If he can stay on the field, Mize appears ticketed for a highly anticipated 2020 debut in Detroit.
2019 Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 60 | Splitter: 70 | Control: 60 | Overall: 65
Undrafted out of high school, Mize honored his commitment to Auburn and blossomed into one of the top college pitchers in the nation. His combination of stuff and control improved in each of his three years there, and he became the highest drafted player in program history when Detroit made him the No. 1 overall pick and signed him for $7.5 million, a record in the bonus pool era. A lengthy junior campaign during which Mize accrued 114 2/3 innings prompted the Tigers to limit his workload after signing, though it certainly didn't keep the right-hander from having an impressive pro debut that concluded with four abbreviated starts in the Florida State League. He dominated early in his first full season, first in the FSL and then after a promotion to Double-A Erie, though his progress was slowed by a shoulder injury in mid-June.
With plus command and the ability to induce whiffs with three different pitches, Mize has the ingredients needed to headline a starting rotation. A plus-plus splitter in the mid-80s that dives at the plate is his best offering, and he's adept at locating the pitch down in the zone or below it. Mize sets it up with a 92-97 mph fastball that he commands exceptionally well despite its running life. His mid-80s slider took a step forward as a junior, consistently grading as a plus offering, and he also has developed the ability to manipulate it into a harder cutter when he desires. Mize has long shown a knack for pounding the zone and attacking hitters. He finished first in NCAA Division I in K/BB ratio (12.1) and fourth in walks per nine innings (1.0) as a sophomore and posted similar numbers as a junior while finishing third among D-I hurlers with 156 strikeouts.
That Mize was shut down in 2017 at Auburn and again in the summer with Team USA due to a tired arm and flexor strain in his forearm raises concerns about his durability. However, he did his part by staying healthy throughout his 2018 campaign, and neither his athletic frame nor his clean delivery have a glaring flaw. With his plus stuff and plus command, it should surprise no one to see him move quickly through the Tigers' system.
2018 Scouting grades: Fastball: 60 | Slider: 60 | Splitter: 70 | Control: 60 | Overall: 60
Mize was too raw to get drafted out of the Alabama high school ranks three years ago, but blossomed at Auburn. His combination of stuff and control put him atop most Draft boards as June approached and that's exactly where he went. He became the highest drafted Auburn player in history when the Tigers took him No. 1 overall and signed him for $7.5 million, a record in the bonus pool era, but still more than $500,000 below pick value.
Mize gets swings and misses with three different pitches, the best of which is a mid-80s splitter that dives at the plate. He sets it up with a 92-97 mph fastball that he commands exceptionally well despite its running life. His mid-80s slider took a step forward this spring, consistently grading as a plus offering, and he also has developed the ability to turn it into a harder cutter when he desires.
While there was some concern about his health after being shut down in 2017 at Auburn and again last summer with Team USA due to a tired arm and flexor strain in his forearm, he answered questions by staying healthy throughout his 2018 campaign and he has an athletic frame and clean delivery that shows no glaring flaw. With his plus stuff and plus command, it should surprise no one to see him move quickly through the Tigers' system.