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Avila mum on top pick ... but not ruling out Mize

GM has Auburn righty on radar, but says Tigers must 'do our due diligence' in meetings
MLB.com @beckjason

DETROIT -- If the Tigers have decided on Auburn right-hander Casey Mize as their top choice for the first overall pick in next week's MLB Draft, general manager Al Avila wasn't saying Wednesday. Nobody would expect him to at this point.

"You're following a lot of reports out there, different publications and their rankings. I'm not saying you're right or wrong," Avila told reporters, "but obviously we have to go through the process of the meetings and make sure that we do our due diligence all the way to the end."

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DETROIT -- If the Tigers have decided on Auburn right-hander Casey Mize as their top choice for the first overall pick in next week's MLB Draft, general manager Al Avila wasn't saying Wednesday. Nobody would expect him to at this point.

"You're following a lot of reports out there, different publications and their rankings. I'm not saying you're right or wrong," Avila told reporters, "but obviously we have to go through the process of the meetings and make sure that we do our due diligence all the way to the end."

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Avila wants to go through the discussion and debate process with his player development officials and scouts before making a final decision by the end of the weekend. Those talks will take place at the Tigers' Spring Training complex in Lakeland, Fla., beginning Thursday night. Avila and assistant GM David Chadd will head there after the Tigers' series finale against the Angels, on Thursday afternoon.

Video: Draft Report: Casey Mize, College pitcher

:: 2018 Draft coverage ::

Avila suggested the club's list for potential top picks stands at five players, with Avila having seen a dozen or so in person. Still, from the comparisons Avila discussed between Mize and Justin Verlander during Tuesday's Tigers telecast on Fox Sports Detroit, it's clear how highly Mize stands in the Tigers' thoughts.

"Verlander was obviously a high pick and an elite pitcher. He threw 100 mph," Avila said. "My point [on the telecast] was that at this point, I felt Mize was a bit more advanced in that his secondary pitches were a bit more refined than Verlander's at that time. When we took Verlander, when he came here, he moved pretty quickly. But at the same time, there was a lot of work to be done."

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That doesn't mean Mize, or anybody in the Draft pool, is a can't-miss prospect.

"I don't know if there's a can't-miss," Avila said. "From Draft to Draft, you try to say, 'Who's that can't-miss?' There's been plenty of can't-misses that have missed, as you all know, in the history of the Draft. But there are good players in this Draft, and there's going to be players in this Draft who will get to the big leagues, and there will be players in this draft who may end up being All-Stars or maybe even franchise players. And they come from all places in the Draft. That's why the Draft is so exciting, and that's why everybody can look at it today and analyze it five or six years from now. In our case, we can only do one thing: We can do our job diligently throughout the year and listen to our scouts and analytics and make the best decision.

"Obviously if you had that once-in-a-decade type player out there, that would definitely make it a lot easier. There's no doubt about that. In saying that, we still feel confident we'll make a good pick."

If and when the Tigers select Mize, he would become the latest highly touted pitching prospect in a system deep with them. Detroit's top four prospects according to MLB Pipeline are starters; three of them rank among MLB Pipeline's top 100 prospects overall.

Video: Mize discusses Draft, playing at Auburn

That depth, Avila said, will not be a consideration.

"You can only draft what opportunity brings to you," Avila said. "So if we feel that the player that we like on that board is a pitcher, and we have a lot of pitchers, we take a pitcher. Same thing if you have a lot of catchers. If it's a catcher, you take a catcher. Talent is what we're looking for, the best talent available."

Nor, Avila said, will money play a role. This year's top pick carries a slot value of $8,096,300, the highest in Draft history. In recent years, however, several teams have signed the top overall pick for less than slot value in hopes of using the extra pool money in later rounds.

"If you take a lesser player for lesser money, you can use that money for your second pick," Avila explained. "The only difficult thing is let's just say you like a certain player with that second pick, what if he's gone? Now you don't have that player anymore, but you have that money. That's the issue.

"Money's not really an issue. I think at the end of the day, we'll take the best player, we'll make the best deal we can, and we'll move forward."

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and listen to his podcast.

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