Every weekend in the SEC is a challenge because of the level of talent that takes the mound opposite of your team. This Friday night will be no different for Kentucky as they take on Auburn’s star pitcher Casey Mize at the Cliff. Mize is projected as a top-five overall pick in this June’s MLB Draft, and for good reason. The junior has struck out 51 batters compared to only three walks in five starts this season. What makes Mize so brilliant? Let’s look at his repertoire on the mound.
Excellent Command of the Strike Zone
Perhaps the most impressive aspect of Mize’s game is his ability to command the strike zone. Mize very rarely gives out a free pass. As a sophomore, Mize led the SEC in strikeout to walk ratio while walking only nine batters 83.2 innings. After pitching for Team USA last summer, Mize was shut down with an injury and missed fall practices. The time off has not fazed Mize in 2018. Mize has allowed only 20 baserunners in 32.2 innings this season. Kentucky’s offense relies on working counts and collecting walks and hit-by-pitches. Mize is the best in the country at limiting baserunners and keeping the ball out of play, so it will be an interesting matchup between the two forces.
His Three-Pitch Mix is Almost Unhittable
Mize has three plus pitches plus a developing cutter. His splitter, fastball, and slider all are plus pitches that he uses to pound the strike zone. Mize uses his mid-high 90s fastball to establish the zone and brings in the best splitter in the country to fool hitters.
Casey Mize, Filthy 85mph Splitter. ? pic.twitter.com/v2QLZdEnHd
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) March 17, 2018
He has shown this year that his mid-high 80s splitter has late movement that can fool hitters. It is unfair that Mize throws a high-90s fastball then can switch gears and throw a splitter or cutter with unbelievable movement. Mize is still developing his slider and cutter, but they are still good pitches that keep hitters’ off balance.
— Brewers Farm (@BrewersFarm) March 21, 2018
Mize is as close to a complete pitcher as there is in college baseball. The only issue is that Mize and Auburn have played more lower-tier opponents than most teams in the SEC. Friday will be the best offense that Mize has faced in 2018. But that being said, Mize has been fantastic regardless of the opponent over the last two seasons. Kentucky will have their hands full on Friday when they face the potential first overall pick in this year’s draft. If you are in Lexington, come to the Cliff to watch Mize take on Sean Hjelle and Kentucky in game one of the weekend series.