DETROIT — Casey Mize is not starting the season with the Detroit Tigers, who reassigned him and several other top prospects to their alternate training location Monday.
Mize, a right-hander who was the top pick in the 2018 draft, has been in camp with the Tigers and certainly could still contribute this year.
“From the day we drafted him, that's why we made him 1-1, we thought he was a very special pitcher," general manager Al Avila said. "He's 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.”
The Tigers can bring up Mize next Wednesday and still delay his eventual free agency eligibility for a year, but Avila said service time isn’t part of his thought process. Detroit also reassigned right-hander Matt Manning, outfielder Riley Greene and infielder Spencer Torkelson to the alternate training location. Torkelson was the top pick in this year's draft.
“The guys that are going to be going to Toledo, to let's say practice and do the intrasquad games and things of that nature, it's going to be more of like, in college in the fall program, there's a lot of instruction, there's a lot of repetition, there's a lot of drills," Avila said. "That really makes you a better baseball player.”
Before the coronavirus shortened the season considerably, there already was a lot of focus on Detroit's talented prospects. Mize, Manning and left-hander Tarik Skubal haven't pitched above Double-A, but the sense during spring training was that they had a chance to take a significant step forward this year and be a big part of the Tigers' future.
Then the sport was halted by the virus, and now teams will try to play a 60-game season — without the usual minor league setup to help top prospects gain experience. Detroit included a number of its big-name prospects in its player pool, but it remains to be seen when they might reach the majors.
Manager Ron Gardenhire said Mize took the news of his reassignment well.
“The greatest thing about the kid is he has questions, things go through his mind," Gardenhire said. "He talked to us about some of his thoughts, and that's what you want from a young man like that. He's on the right path.”
NOTES: The Tigers also sent several other players to the alternate training location. They optioned C Eric Haase and OF Travis Demeritte and reassigned RHPs Franklin Perez, Tim Adleman, Nolan Blackwood, Alex Faedo, Zack Hess and Alex Lange, LHP Hector Santiago, Cs Jake Rogers, Dillon Dingler and Brady Policelli and INFs Sergio Alcantara, Isaac Paredes and Frank Schwindel.
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Noah Trister, The Associated Press