The Detroit Tigers have officially secured an important piece of their rebuilding process.
On Monday the Tigers announced they have signed Auburn right-hander Casey Mize, MLB.com's Jim Callis says Mize received a $7.5 million bonus. The signing was announced at a press conference at Comerica Park..
"It's such an honor to be the first overall pick and join a great organization like the Tigers," said Mize during the press conference. "I'm really appreciative of them considering (me) the best player in the draft and taking me with the first selection. For it to be official, it really feels great."
The $7.5 million signing bonus is the second largest in draft history and the record under the current bonus pool system, which was implemented in 2012. Teams used to be able to spend freely on draft picks. Now they're held to a bonus pool with penalties for excess spending so harsh they effectively act as a salary cap.
The No. 1 pick came with an $8,096,300 slot value, so the Tigers saved $596,300 in bonus pool space they now use on other players. No No. 1 pick has received full slot value since the bonus pools were implemented in 2012. Here are the largest signing bonuses in draft history:
- Gerrit Cole, Pirates: $8 million (1st overall in 2011)
- Stephen Strasburg, Nationals: $7.5 million (1st overall in 2009)
- Bubba Starling, Royals: $7.5 million (5th overall in 2011)
- Casey Mize, Tigers: $7.5 million (1st overall in 2018)
- Hunter Greene, Reds: $7.23 million (2nd overall in 2017)
Strasburg's bonus was part of four-year major league contract worth $15.1 million contract guaranteed. Teams are no longer allowed to sign drafted players to major league contracts, so Strasburg's deal will remain the largest ever given to a drafted player unless the spending rules are revised at some point.
Mize, 21, pitched to a 3.30 ERA with 156 strikeouts and only 16 walks in 114 2/3 innings this spring. He leaves Auburn with a career 2.96 ERA and 324 strikeouts in 266 strikeouts despite being undrafted out of high school. Mize was the consensus No. 1 prospect going into the 2018 draft. Here is a snippet of MLB.com's scouting report:
Mize can get swings and misses with three different pitches, the best of which is a mid-80s splitter that dives at the plate. He sets it up with a 92-97 mph fastball that he commands exceptionally well despite its running life. His mid-80s slider has taken a step forward this spring, consistently grading as a plus offering, and he also has developed the ability to turn it into a harder cutter when he desires.
During Monday's press conference Tigers scouting director Scott Pleis indicated Mize will pitch at some point this year -- it is not uncommon for teams to take it (very) easy on college pitchers after the draft if they had a big workload in the spring -- though the real coming out party is set for 2019. Mize is talented and polished enough to begin next season in Double-A and potentially make his big league debut before the end of the season.