Detroit Tigers coach evaluates Casey Mize, Matt Manning: Here's what he said

Evan Petzold
Detroit Free Press

Detroit Tigers pitching coach Rick Anderson thought he’d have to start all over again, much like a prototypical spring training.

Instead, he returned to Comerica Park last week to find his pitchers in shape and ready to throw as the team prepares for the July 24 season opener in Cincinnati.

A sigh of relief.

“It’s been really, really amazing what these guys have done,” Anderson said. “Every one of them stayed in shape and kept throwing. It’s been really impressive.”

Here's the 2020 Detroit Tigers schedule: Home opener on July 27 ]

Three top pitching prospects — right-handers Casey Mize, Matt Manning and Franklin Perez — have thrown bullpens or live batting practice. Monday served as the team’s first full-squad workout.

Left-hander Tarik Skubal and righty Alex Faedo haven’t been seen yet.

“I really don’t know what the deal is with them,” Anderson said. “But I’m sure after talking to (general manager) Al (Avila), we’ll have a good answer for you.”

Detroit Tigers prospect Casey Mize talks with pitching coach Rick Anderson during his bullpen session at Comerica Park on Saturday, July 4, 2020.

Anderson projects all starters should be up to 70 to 80 pitches and five innings once training camp is complete, so he expects them to be ready for at least 100 pitches when the season begins.

He has seen strides from 2016 American League Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer, who is coming back from an elbow injury that sidelined him for the 2019 season. The next step in his rehabilitation, Anderson said, is evaluating his in-game awareness, which will come from intrasquad games that begin Wednesday.

“Injuries is such a progression from just catch-play on up,” Anderson said. “He’s up to his last step. Probably the best shape I’ve seen him and the best his delivery has been. The last step of rehab is games.”

But without a minor-league season, all eyes are on how the Tigers handle their pitching prospects.

[ Spencer Torkelson's dream comes true in 'cool moment' at Detroit Tigers' Comerica Park ]

Manager Ron Gardenhire wants them to play — at least a little bit. The plan all along, he said, has been for those pitchers (and maybe 2020 No. 1 overall pick Spencer Torkelson) to get a shot in the big leagues this season, but the decision ultimately will be determined by Avila.

"There was talk during spring training that sometime during the year, these guys might have an opportunity if everything goes well," Gardenhire said. "I don't think that's changed.

"We'll see how everything goes, but we've got some good ones and are really excited about that. Seeing (Spencer) Torkelson and guys like that, you know, coming in here and stepping right in has been fun. There's a lot of good things. I'm sure, somewhere during this thing, maybe they'll get an opportunity."

Here’s what Anderson said Tuesday about Mize and Manning:

RHP Casey Mize

Age: 23

Drafted: No. 1 overall (2018)

2019 team: Double-A Erie Seawolves

Stats: 15 starts, 78.2 IP, 6-3, 3.20 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 76 SO, 18 BB

What Anderson said: “I think Mize has a great makeup. He’s driven to be great, almost to a fault where he wants to be a perfectionist. And if it’s not working in that particular moment, he gets so hard on himself. He’s got to learn how to control his emotions and keep his mindset under control ... I mean, he’s got a chance to be special, but that’s not the only part of the game he’s got to get better at — consistency with his pitches. He’s got to get consistency with his mental approach, the mental part of the game and don’t be so hard on himself. That’s probably his biggest thing that he will get better at with maturity and pitching.

“He’s a lot of fun to be around, and that’s not even saying how good his stuff is. He’s got tremendous stuff. He’s like any young guy. Shoot, at Auburn, he never got hit. I mean, he’s going to go through some things here where he’s facing Aaron Judge, makes great pitches and he hits one in the upper deck and is like, ‘Holy cow.’ Those are part of the stuff that comes with experience and maturity.”

RHP Matt Manning

Age: 22

Drafted: No. 9 overall (2016)

2019 team: Double-A Erie Seawolves

Stats: 24 starts, 113.2 IP, 11-5, 2.56 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 148 SO, 38 BB

What Anderson said: “He’s been throwing a couple pens a week up until this. You watch his pitches ... I can’t tell you how many times I’ve stopped and looked over to (Jeff) Pico and said, ‘Whoa, that’s pretty.’ So, these guys have been impressive. These two (Manning and Beau Burrows) are no different than the rest. They got very good stuff, got a chance to be a Detroit Tiger somewhere in the future.”

The Detroit Tigers held workouts at Comerica Park Friday, July 3, 2020. Pitcher Matt Manning throws from the mound as the team prepares for the shortened 2020 season.

Evan Petzold is a sports reporting intern at the Detroit Free Press. Contact him at epetzold@freepress.com or follow him on Twitter @EvanPetzold