Detroit Tigers' Casey Mize gives a glimpse into his psyche entering his MLB debut

Evan Petzold
Detroit Free Press

Casey Mize sat in his Detroit condo with his wife Saturday watching the Detroit Tigers take their 19th straight loss to the Cleveland Indians when his phone rang.

The call came from vice president of player development Dave Littlefield.

They discussed what was happening in the game for about 30 seconds, and then Littlefield delivered the news sent from general manager Al Avila.

"I'm going to cut to the chase," Littlefield said. "You're going to travel with the team tomorrow night, be placed on the taxi squad and you're going to pitch on Wednesday."

Mize, the No. 1 overall pick from the 2018 draft, has been waiting to hear those words for the last two years, so he poured a glass of wine to celebrate. His plan since draft day was to get to the majors as quickly as possible, and he admitted that he would've liked to make the jump earlier in the 60-game season, if not straight out of summer camp.

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"I felt like I could have helped out," the 23-year-old said Tuesday, "but what else could I do other than work really hard and continue to perform well? I knew my day would come, so that's all I really could do. And I'm here now, so I'm pretty happy about that."

Detroit Tigers pitcher Casey Mize throws during an intrasquad game Thursday, July 9, 2020, at Comerica Park.

His opportunity became official Monday, as the Tigers announced they were calling up Mize, left-hander Tarik Skubal and third baseman Isaac Paredes from the alternate training site in Toledo to make their MLB debuts against the Chicago White Sox. The organization's goal, Avila said, is to keep the prospects on the roster for the remainder of the year.

When Mize makes his debut Wednesday against a power-hitting White Sox team, he will do so without his family and friends in the stands, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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His parents, brother, wife and in-laws will watch from a hotel in Chicago. Because it's his debut, Mize said his family wants to be near him rather than watching from their living rooms back home.

Mize's mentality is to go deep into the game and provide much-needed relief for the bullpen. He won't have a pitch count and already has a couple of Chicago hitters picked out to go after with his esteemed splitter.

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Most importantly, he envisions a win and the continuation of his development.The franchise's No. 2 prospect dominated in 21 starts and 109⅓ innings last season for High-A Lakeland and Double-A Erie, posting a 2.55 ERA, 0.942 WHIP, 106 strikeouts and 23 walks.

Casey Mize, the first overall pick in the MLB draft, selected by the Detroit Tigers, speaks to the press at Comerica Park in Detroit on Monday, June 25, 2018.

"I always expect myself to put the team in a position to win," Mize said. "That's what I'm gonna try to do. That's what I'm trying to challenge myself to do — just enjoy the moment, be where my feet are and realize everything I've worked for is happening currently. So just, you know, try to enjoy it and try to win a ballgame, because that's what everything is all about."

Between Littlefield's phone call and his arrival at the clubhouse in Chicago, Mize has enjoyed the perks of being a big-leaguer. He sat with Skubal on the "sick" (the 2020 way of saying cool) team charter plane and loves the food options, which seem to appearin every direction he looks.

Once Mize and Skubal got to Chicago, they went over the gameplan with manager Ron Gardenhire.

"I think they'll handle it," Gardenhire said Tuesday. "They're ready for it. I think they believe that in their own minds. They're excited about this. They know it's baseball, and they've been playing baseball a long time."

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With Gardenhire's vote of confidence, Mize is prepared to attack the White Sox. 

He knows many are anticipating greatness.

"I'm just trying to focus on what I expect from myself," Mize said. "And I promise you, if I accomplish what I expect from myself, I'll make a lot of other people happy with their expectations. I really try to focus on what I can control and what I can do.

"But, obviously, I want to make fans happy, and I want to win ballgames."

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