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2018 Draft Preview: Casey Mize, RHP

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Washington Nationals v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

There may not be a better Pitcher in this draft than Mize, when he’s healthy and if he’s healthy he could be gone by the Phillies’ pick (and if he isn’t healthy, #3 would be too high). Mize is a 6’3” 210 lbs Right Handed Pitcher with a Plus Fastball, a Slider that looks Plus this spring, a legitimately nasty Splitter and a newly added Cutter that is showing Plus. Splitters were big in the 80’s until a lot of guys started having arm problems and the Split-Finger got blamed for shredding elbows, making Splitters a little more rare. The Splitter is a pretty new pitch for Mize too, having been added in the last 2 years in place of a loose Changeup from his High Schools days. Also new: the forearm stiffness that shut him down twice last year and which is widely considered a warning sign for Tommy John Surgery in a player’s future.

Now, I’m not keen on asking a Pitcher to drop his best pitch, but the emergence of the Cutter this year may mean he needs to throw fewer Splits, saving the strain. I’ll also admit early in this piece that because his Slider has looked more consistent and that Cutter suddenly appeared and looks like a pitch he’s been throwing for years instead of a new offering, I am downright, hyperbolic in my giddiness over Mize’s potential. So far this Spring in 4 starts he’s gone 25.1 innings with 38 K’s and 3 BBs (not a typo, actually just three). What’s more he’s pounded the zone with Major League quality control throwing nearly 70% of his pitches for strikes (he’s roughly 5% over MLB average on that metric). You’re talking about a Pitcher with 4 Plus pitches and Plus control and you’re talking about a guy with potential to be one of the top 10 Pitchers in baseball as a ceiling (and keep in mind, this is me doing my damnedest to keep my hyperbole in check). In his last start Mize threw a no-hitter and only missed a perfect game due to a throwing error. This would be awesome news if we had the #1 pick, so forgive me for rooting for Mize to stink just a tiny little bit the next 3 months.

On to the videos. In this first one from Adam McInturff from a 2/23 game you can see a few things. First, he’s really quick to the plate, even when not in the stretch. Second the Fastball is kind of straight, but he can drop it right on the target most of the time (also, I have no idea why the Catcher is calling for the Fastball straight down the middle of the plate on the homer to Right, but Mize is on track to hit the spot before it flies 300 feet behind him). It does get away from him up a few times when he overthrows it.

It’s hard to find the highly desired side view, but I have watched games and the delivery is mostly very clean. The one concern is that he’s perhaps a little late with his Pitching arm and whips it mostly very late in his delivery. He should want to tweak that a little to get the arm forward more in his delivery. The risk there is he’s clearly so comfortable in his mechanics and that type of change, may lead him to lose some of that plus control (here’s a link that’s way over my head, if you want to learn more). In this video from behind Home Plate, you can see the late arm whip better.

I want to see 2018 video, but there’s not much out there. Everything is game video from behind, which is a fairly useless angle to judge mechanics. That said, enjoy this link to a story/video on the no-hitter.

Mize has things to fix in his delivery, his control probably needs a year or so of improvement and that forearm tightness is scary. However, the ceiling is tantalizing and close, Mize could move roughly as quick as Nola did, which is appealing to a team like the Phillies who are winding down the rebuild.