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Top prospect Mize doesn't make OD roster

July 20, 2020

DETROIT -- Casey Mize will not be part of the Tigers' rotation to open the season. He might not have to wait long to join it. As expected, the Tigers reassigned their top prospect on Monday to their alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio, essentially this season’s equivalent to sending

DETROIT -- Casey Mize will not be part of the Tigers' rotation to open the season. He might not have to wait long to join it.

As expected, the Tigers reassigned their top prospect on Monday to their alternate training site in Toledo, Ohio, essentially this season’s equivalent to sending a player to the Minor Leagues. Mize will work out at Fifth Third Field in preparation for a potential callup in the upcoming 60-game season.

Mize’s reassignment was among 19 moves made by the Tigers on Monday to whittle down their camp roster. Among those with Mize optioned or reassigned to Toledo:

• Pitchers Tim Adleman, Nolan Blackwood, Alex Faedo, Zack Hess, Alex Lange, Matt Manning, Franklin Pérez and Héctor Santiago
• Catchers Dillon Dingler, Eric Haase, Brady Policelli and Jake Rogers
• Infielders Sergio Alcántara, Isaac Paredes, Frank Schwindel and Spencer Torkelson
• Outfielders Travis Demeritte and Riley Greene

Detroit’s camp now stands at 37 players; the Tigers have until Thursday at noon ET to get down to 30.

Though Jordan Zimmermann’s right forearm strain and Daniel Norris’ status in COVID-19 protocol have opened two spots in Detroit’s rotation, Mize will not be an immediate answer.

“We’ve got guys that we’re going to mix and match,” general Al Avila said. “Those guys are going to be given opportunities to pitch, and we’re hopeful that they’ll come through successfully.”

Avila also said the Tigers will watch the transaction wires this week for potential waiver pickups and signings as non-roster invites in other camps exercise their opt-out clauses.

The Tigers have said since Spring Training that Mize had a chance to make his Major League debut at some point this season if the opportunity arose. His performance in Summer Camp over the last few weeks has only enhanced that mindset, not only with his pitches -- led by a splitter that could be one of the better non-traditional pitches in the big leagues whenever he arrives -- but with his professional approach.

“From the day we drafted him -- and that’s why we made him [the first overall pick] -- we thought he was a very special pitcher," Avila said. "He has handled himself great. He’s a pro. He works very hard. We have high expectations of him. He has high expectations of himself. And he’s on the right track. And when the time comes, I know that he will be getting himself ready for when he’s needed.”

After two hitless innings and three strikeouts in an intrasquad game July 9, Mize threw live batting practice for his last two turns, including a few innings Sunday afternoon before rain forced him to finish his work in the batting cages.

“He has some filthy stuff,” said Matthew Boyd, who watched Mize’s final couple innings Sunday. “He’s a special talent.”

The expectation has always been that Mize would begin the season in Toledo. Part of the debate with prospects usually includes service time. Even with a shortened season, a starting pitcher would accumulate a full year of service time for at most 12 starts, putting him a year closer to free agency down the road. That changes if a team waits just over a week.

However, Avila said service time did not factor into the decision with Mize or other prospects.

“That’s not a thought process for me right now,” Avila said. “My thought process right now is putting a team on the field, keeping the organizational depth to where it benefits us as we move forward through the season. When we feel that our young players are ready to come up and contribute, we’ll bring them up at the right time that we feel they’re ready, and we feel that we have the biggest need.”

The Tigers informed Mize of the move on Monday.

“We had our meeting in my office with Al and [assistant GM] David Chadd and we talked about it,” manager Ron Gardenhire said. “And the greatest thing about the kid is he has questions. And he talked to us about some of his thoughts, and that’s what you want.

“He’s on the right path. This organization said a few years ago, 'This is the way we’re going to do it, and we’re sticking to it.' And you know what? He’s going to go down and pitch, and he’ll be ready when needed, if we need him, and the kid’s got a lot going for himself. He’s a really good pitcher. He’s a class act. And he handled himself very well in the office when we told him he wasn’t going to start with us.”

Quick hits
• Gardenhire had high praise for Rogers, Detroit's No. 10 prospect who was also sent to Toledo: “I told Jake, ‘Out of all the catchers here, I think that when you're behind the plate, I think you put fear in the other team, the way you can throw the ball behind runners and all those things. So you keep working on that.’ And this guy is still a big part of our plans. He's just right now going to go down there and do his thing. But I think this organization loves this kid. He's going to be able to hit, and as he finds a better swing and gets his swing down, he's an impact player behind the plate. That's my opinion.”

• Haase will be part of the Tigers’ three-man taxi squad, which will travel with the team in case a callup is needed on short notice. Teams are required to carry a catcher on the taxi squad.

• Right-handed relievers Hess and Lange, who were added to the player pool last week, made their intrasquad debuts Monday. Hess tossed a perfect inning with back-to-back strikeouts.

Up next
The Tigers begin a two-game exhibition series at 6:40 p.m. ET Tuesday against the Reds at Great American Ball Park. Dario Agrazal is expected to get the start in his effort to make the Opening Day roster. Look for many of the regulars to get work as they face an opponent in another uniform for the first time since mid-March. That includes JaCoby Jones, who missed a chunk of camp with oblique tightness.

Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for since 2002. Read Beck's Blog and follow him on Twitter @beckjason.