DETROIT -- The Tigers have been anticipating Casey Mize in the Old English D since the spring. As the top overall Draft pick put on the cap and slipped on the jersey Monday afternoon in a news conference announcing his signing, Detroit's rebuilding effort received a major boost."It feels amazing,"
DETROIT -- The Tigers have been anticipating Casey Mize in the Old English D since the spring. As the top overall Draft pick put on the cap and slipped on the jersey Monday afternoon in a news conference announcing his signing, Detroit's rebuilding effort received a major boost.
"It feels amazing," Mize said. "It's such an honor to be the first overall pick and join a great organization like the Tigers. I'm really appreciative of them considering me the best player in this Draft and taking me with the first selection. To have it be official, it really feels great."
Mize received a signing bonus around $7.5 million, MLB Pipeline's Jim Callis confirmed. It's lower than the $8,096,300 slot value assigned to the top overall pick, but it is a record bonus for a Draft pick in the pool bonus era, and it is tied for the second-largest bonus overall behind Gerrit Cole's $8 million bonus to sign out of UCLA in 2011. The Detroit Free Press first reported the bonus.
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The Tigers selected the Auburn right-hander with the No. 1 overall pick in the MLB Draft on June 4. A deal had been expected, and it became imminent once Mize was spotted at Comerica Park on Monday morning and worked out on the field with the team prior to batting practice.
"I was a little nervous to even go play catch," Mize said, "but it was really cool to even be out there on the field and interacting with some of the players. I felt a part of it a little bit, which was an awesome feeling. Even stepping in the dugout and just seeing the stadium, it was really cool. It's something I obviously hope happens a lot more, but it was the first time, so it was special."
Mize joined 2009 top pick Stephen Strasburg as players to go undrafted out of high school before becoming the top overall pick out of college. Mize tossed a no-hitter against Northeastern in March, propelling him toward a season worthy of his billing. The right-hander went 10-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 17 starts, striking out 156 batters over 114 2/3 innings with 84 hits allowed. Just as impressive, he surrendered just 16 walks.
"I got to see him come in as a freshman at Auburn," Tigers amateur scout Justin Henry said, "and seeing him in the college seasons and the Cape Cod League, how much better he got in three years was very impressive. But I think the most impressive thing was sitting down and speaking to him and getting to know him and hearing how he goes about his business. It was a different meeting than most of the meetings I have with players."
Said Detroit scouting director Scott Pleis: "He checked all the boxes -- physically, mentally, makeup, work ethic, all that stuff, along with the talent to do what he does on the field."
Mize's college career ended in the NCAA Super Regional a couple of weeks ago. Fittingly, after a few days vacationing with his family and girlfriend, he resumed working out in anticipation of his pro career.
"I got a few days of downtime and then I got pretty bored," Mize said.
Where that pro career will begin remains to be seen. Mize will work out in Lakeland, Fla., at the Tigers' Spring Training facility, but the club is still working out where and when he'll pitch.
"We're going to put down a plan together," Pleis said. "We pretty much know what we're going to do, but we're going to figure out how many innings, when he's going to do it. All that stuff's going to be mapped out."
Detroit also signed third-round pick Kody Clemens, according to a source. The University of Texas second baseman skyrocketed up Draft charts with a stellar junior season for the Longhorns, leading the Big 12 Conference with 19 regular-season home runs to go with 61 RBIs and a 1.140 OPS. Callis reports that Clemens received a $600,000 bonus.
The Tigers have not officially announced the Clemens signing, but Clemens announced in a tweet Monday he has decided to begin his pro career and sign.
"We're still finalizing that, but we're really close with that one," Pleis said.
Mize and Clemens are expected to travel from Detroit to Los Angeles for the Golden Spikes Award ceremony. The honor, which goes annually to the top player in college baseball, will be announced Wednesday night. Clemens is expected to begin his pro career shortly at Class A West Michigan.
The deals leave second-round pick Parker Meadows as the Tigers' lone unsigned selection out of their first 10 picks. The athletic high school outfielder has committed to play college baseball at Clemson, but his older brother, Pirates outfielder Austin Meadows, tweeted Sunday that his little brother was "off to pursue his dream."
By signing Mize and Clemens for below their slot value, Detroit has Draft pool money available to use on Meadows, if it so chooses. A deal could come together in the next couple of days.
Jason Beck has covered the Tigers for MLB.com since 2002. Read Beck's Blog, follow him on Twitter @beckjason and Facebook.