DETROIT -- Give Casey Mize credit: He isn't taking anything for granted.The top pick in last June's MLB Draft isn't predicting anything about a fast track to the Tigers' pitching staff. Mize, who is ranked as the club's No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline, isn't even sure if he'll be
DETROIT -- Give Casey Mize credit: He isn't taking anything for granted.
The top pick in last June's MLB Draft isn't predicting anything about a fast track to the Tigers' pitching staff. Mize, who is ranked as the club's No. 1 prospect by MLB Pipeline, isn't even sure if he'll be in Major League camp this Spring Training. But when the gifted right-hander decided to use part of his record signing bonus to splurge on a new set of wheels, he went with something local, and he avoided any temptation for a flashy sports car.
"I bought a Jeep Grand Cherokee about a month ago, so that was my big item," Mize said earlier this month during an autograph appearance at Comerica Park. "High-rolling. It's got all the heated seats and stuff, and it's awesome, man, compared to my '06 Tacoma. It's everything I want."
At least for now, Mize does not have the auto collection of the last highly-drafted Tigers pitcher, Justin Verlander. If anything, Mize is more like former Tiger Nate Robertson, who ran his old pickup truck into the ground before buying a new one several years into his big league career.
The old Tacoma, Mize admitted, was nearing the end, closing in on 200,000 miles and looking ragged, even for a college student.
"Yeah, AC was out, had a hole in the exhaust pipe, windshield was cracked, a couple blinkers were out," the former Auburn University pitcher said. "It's all fixable stuff, but you can tell the car's on the downslide."
The truck is staying in the family as a hauler, Mize said. He'll drive the Grand Cherokee around his home just outside Nashville. But he isn't assuming anything about when he'll be able to point it towards Detroit and take off.
Asked if he has any goals for his first full professional season, Mize kept it simple.
"Not any destination goals or anything like that," he said. "I think it's just more personal, just having a long, healthy season that I'm satisfied with. I think that would be my goal."
A full, healthy season would probably make the Tigers happy as well. Though team officials didn't shut him down for the summer like they did a year earlier with first-round pick Alex Faedo, the club limited Mize's work to five starts between the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League and Class A Advanced Lakeland, covering 13 2/3 innings.
The results -- six runs on 13 hits, two home runs, three walks and 14 strikeouts -- weren't as important as the experience. Mize picked up just enough workload to realize what he's in for when he joins a rotation at one of the Tigers' Minor League affiliates in 2019.
"Even if it was a small sample size, I can just kind of have the confidence that I've done it before and I kind of know what to expect," Mize said. "Obviously, I don't know what a full season entails yet or Spring Training, things like that. That'll all be new. But just to say that I've pitched professionally and kind of know what to expect makes it a little bit better."
Mize is also getting an idea of what to expect from fellow players with whom he works out. One reason he decided to make his offseason home near Nashville was to train at a facility his agents set up. Mize is training with 8-10 other players, he said, and picking their brain.
Most of the work so far has centered on strengthening, which Mize said has raised his weight to 225 pounds while lowering his body fat. But the talk has focused on baseball.
"They've done it before," Mize said. "I'm just picking their brain. What's big-league camp like, if that's a possibility? What's the big leagues like? What's Triple-A like? Just kind of what's this league like, just talking about certain things. I think it's just all beneficial. The more information you can get, it's going to help you get through it a little bit smoother. I think that's the biggest benefit."
Wherever Mize ends up opening next season, he wants to be prepared. But the only firm planning he's doing for 2019 is for his wedding. Mize proposed last month to his girlfriend, Tali Milde. She's completing her senior year at Auburn, so he has planning duties for now until Spring Training opens.
"I've actually been doing [a lot]. We're getting married in Tennessee, so I've been having to go see some venues on my own," he said. "Actually, the venue we're getting married at, she hasn't even seen it in person. I just went and saw it and she said this is the one."
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.