AUBURN, Ala. – “A 15-strikeout night for Casey Mize.”
That is a call from Andy Burcham after Mize had a 15th strike to seal a 4-1 victory over Vanderbilt in the first of three home matches at Plainsman Park. See above to hear the whole call. It was a high career for Mize, who had 11 strikes through the first five rounds. He also tied Auburn’s lone match record for a strike.
Mize then became the overall draft pick No. 1 in the 2018 MLB Draft, and after finishing his first full season in minor leauges last year, which included no-hitters on his AA debut, he was invited to spring training this year with the Detroit Tigers.
Coronavirus has suspended everything for now, but we met with former Auburn ace to talk about a 15-strikeout performance against Commodores.
Q: What do you remember from the game?
Mize: It was a big weekend with Vanderbilt coming to town. We have played well. They are the top 25 team. They are very good. It was just another weekend at Plainsman Park where I wanted to go out on Friday night and set the tone for the weekend and play in front of our fans. It was beautiful weather, beautiful scenery and fortunately, I played pretty well. Brett Wright made his first home run innings. Connor Davis scored home runs three times later in the game, and that was finally enough because we won 4-1. I don’t know where I was in the notebook when it happened, but after the match when we shook hands and I heard a call that I was tying a note, it was pretty neat for me. Overall, a pleasant evening. That’s what I will remember forever.
Q: What works for you? Are you getting into the groove?
Mize: I remember my cutter succeeded. I throw a lot because they have four or five left-handed in a line when there are usually two or three. So I can throw the cutter at their back foot under their barrel, and I remember it was very successful. And then the splitter, which I think throws my signature, I threw a lot of that game too. I remember the two throws above, but especially the cutter and the backfooting to the left. I remember having many strikes at the start of the game and thought everything was going pretty well today.
Q: What does it mean to tie Auburn notes to an in-game strike? You join a club that includes two former big league players, Hudson Team and Chris Bootcheck.
Mize: It means a lot. At that time I wasn’t very sure of the record, but then when I heard the names after the fact, it definitely put me into an elite company. I am honored to be in that group. They are two big league players, two players that I respect and have spent a long time. I was very happy to be in the group, and then quite less than a year later, Tanner [Burns] join that group too. He added another pretty good name to the group. It’s cool just to be mentioned in the same breath as those people.
Q: The MLB draft will come. What do you remember from the time you were recruited?
Mize: Those were the two best days of my life. The day before we won the Raleigh Regional at NC State, which honestly was one of the best nights of my life. We won the region with authority, and that only meant for a great season and how we moved from my not-so-fresh first year to winning regionally in the junior year and then knowing that I had something very special in store for me. the next day in person.
We returned to Auburn and went to the football conference room, and I had all my teammates, friends, family, coaching staff, only people around the Auburn baseball program who deserved to be in that room because they all had a part in it. Very neat for me to experience it with my teammates and have it all there. When I was chosen as a whole, there was a lot of relief because it was a very stressful year for me. I am clearly very happy for myself and my family and teammates to experience it.
Butch Thompson and the Auburn program which has the potential to have two pitchers in three years was recruited in the first round?
Mize: It says a lot. It is said he put a good player into the program by recruiting well, and then he developed better. Because I am not a very high recruitment, but I developed a ton Butch Thompson and that allows me to advance in the first round, choose the first and get the success that I have today. For Tanner, it was a different story. He is a very high recruitment, but he is still developing and getting much better at Auburn. I think it shows that Coach Thompson did a great job in developing players, recruiting players and only bringing good people to Auburn. That’s the biggest thing he cares about.
Q: How was your first full year in the minor league last year?
Mize: That is good. I certainly learned a lot. I set my goals to learn a lot, gain experience in the pro ball and set myself for the big year this year. I think I do that mostly. Obviously things have changed a little this year, but I still hope that I prepare well for this season and maybe I can play in the big league as I planned and start my major league career. But it was a good first year. I learned a lot. I have to travel a lot. I traveled to many regions in the country that I had never visited. This is a lot different from college, but it’s something I have to do, and I have to adapt and adjust.
Q: I have to ask about no-hitters in your AA debut. Seriously?
Mize: It was incredible. I took a plane to New Jersey. I met the team in New Jersey a few days before and then we went to Pennsylvania and I started the first game of the series. I just want to make a good first impression. That is honestly my goal of the game is to impress my teammates. It was a new group of people and a new coaching staff. Our GM was there, GM’s assistant was there, Jim Leyland who was the old Tigers manager was there. So I really want to make a good impression on everyone there. I dropped the first batter, so it wasn’t a good start for the game. Luckily, I turned it around and ended up throwing a no-hitter and playing well. As I said, my goal is to make a good first impression and I think I did that. After that, smooth sailing. I don’t need to worry about impressing these people anymore.
Q: What were the last two months like for you with COVID-19?
Mize: I was still in the camp when everything happened. I’m still there, throwing pretty well. I will start the next day against the Yankees. So it was disappointing. But honestly, my goal for this year is to play in the big leagues. If there is still a big league season, which I think will be very much, I still want to be a part of it. That’s still my goal for this year. There is still work to be done and several decisions must be made above, but I hope I am included and I hope I get the chance because I do a lot of work and I think I’m almost ready to be there. If there is a season, I hope I become a part of it.
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