Art Of Command With Auburn’s Casey Mize 0

By LOU PAVLOVICH, JR.
Editor/Collegiate Baseball

AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn RHP Casey Mize is one of the greatest strike throwers in the history of college baseball.

He has struck out 70 batters with only 3 walks in 47 innings this season while posting a 6-0 record and 2.11 ERA for the Tigers.

The 6-foot-3, 220-pound Mize currently has a streak of 31 2/3 innings without allowing a walk.

Last season, he led the nation in strikeout-to-walk ratio with 109 strikeouts and only 9 walks over 83 innings pitched.

An exclamation point on the season was a no-hitter against Northeastern as he fanned a career-high 13 batters.

His precision control, amazing array of five pitches and mental toughness are compelling reasons why he may be the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft.

The greatest control pitcher in college baseball history was Cal. St. Fullerton’s Thomas Eshelman who only walked 3 batters in 115 2/3 innings during the 2013 season.

Eshelman was so accurate that he didn’t issue his first walk of the season until April 12 — a streak of 63 1/3 innings. And he accomplished this all as a freshman.

“I have always been a strike thrower even going back to my Little League days,” said Mize.

“Having conviction in throwing all of my pitches for strikes is a big reason for my success. And having a repeatable delivery helps with my control as well which allows you to be comfortable and release the ball out of the same slot.”

Mize said his pitching has been refined on many levels by Auburn Head Coach Butch Thompson who is one of the elite pitching minds in the game.

“One of the biggest areas I needed to make an adjustment was from the stretch. So last winter, I received help from Lantz Wheeler (Baseball Think Tank), among others in Nashville,” said Mize.

“I got to the point where I pre-set my hips so I am in a good position to deliver a strike. Making everything a little simpler while still staying strong and comfortable is what the goal was. And so far, it has worked extremely well with pitches thrown from the stretch.”

Mize said that he typically throws 70-73 percent strikes for games which factors in all pitches.

He said his routine to improve command begins in catch play.

“A lot of people take catch play for granted and just throw until their arm feels good. Yet I feel there are a lot of things you can do within that to improve your command.

“When I pitch, I throw a 4-seam fastball to my glove side and a 2-seam fastball to my arm side. Every time I play catch with my partner, I try to do that.

“I will have him stand square to me, and I will try to hit his right hip with my 4-seam fastball and his left hip with his 2-seamer as I would do in a game.”

Mize said that catch play with a partner initially takes place about 30 feet and gradually goes out to 120 feet but no further.

“With my first throw or last throw of the day, I am always aiming for those two spots on his hips. That is every day. It is something I can do which gives me good feedback on whether I am commanding the ball or not.

“Toward the end of catch play when we are back to 60 feet, I will throw my off-speed stuff. I try to locate down with those pitches.”

Mize said he doesn’t perform long toss during the season.

He only does that during the off-season.

“During the season, all I am trying to do is locate pitches and pull the ball down. I’m not trying to gain more arm strength.”

Pitching Repertoire

Besides his 2-seam and 4-seam fastballs, he also throws a cut fastball.

“I added that about a week before the season. It has really been clicking for me. That is a pitch that is anywhere from 88-91 mph. My 4-seam fastball typically is 92-96 mph. The highest it has been clocked is 97 mph. My 2-seamer must be thrown to my arm side to get it to break away from lefthanded batters.

“I also throw a slider which is more of a slurve which I can just drop in there for a strike.

“I also throw a split changeup which is probably my best pitch. That has been my putaway pitch for lefthanded and righthanded batters. Typically I throw that late in counts to try and strike batters out.

“People are familiar with a split finger fastball. But my split changeup is different.

“I don’t throw this pitch as hard as my fastball. It is thrown at 86-88 mph. I don’t have very big hands. Those two fingers are separated by the ball, but not nearly as much as many people think when you think of the split grip.”

Mize said a downward tumbling action takes place which is totally different than any of his other pitches.

Yet he throws it with the same arm speed and slot as his fastball which makes it so deceptive.

To read more of this article, purchase the April 20, 2018 edition or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.

Mize explains how he achieves deception with his pitches as each pitch comes out of the same tunnel, why Auburn Head Coach Butch Thompson feels Mize may be the most impressive pitcher he has ever tutored and why his split-finger changeup may be the No. 1 pitch in college baseball today, plus much more.