Tigers send top pick Mize to minor league camp

LAKELAND, Fla. -- Detroit Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire was impressed with Casey Mize's brief stint with the major leaguers.

"The kid was awesome. He had a ball here," Gardenhire said. "Having him pitch yesterday and seeing him out there was impressive."

Mize, the No. 1 selection in last year's draft, was assigned to minor league camp by the Tigers on Tuesday. He gave Detroit fans a glimpse of his possible future on Monday, when he pitched two innings against St. Louis. Mize struck out the first two batters of a 1-2-3 seventh, then allowed a run in the eighth after walking two.

Mize went 10-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 17 starts at Auburn last year . He made four starts in the minors across the Rookie and Class A levels.

Last month, Mize pitched two innings for the Tigers in a game against Southeastern University, allowing three hits and a run and striking out two. He came in last week against the New York Yankees and allowed a hit before the game was called because of rain.

He looked impressive at the start of his outing against the Cardinals. Kolten Wong, a veteran infielder who had homered earlier in the game, was one of Mize's strikeout victims.

Now Mize heads to minor league camp, where it should be easier for the team to get him the work he needs.

"They need to go pitch, get innings. We've got so many people here," Gardenhire said. "When they start throwing four and five innings, the starters, that's less innings we can get people."

Gardenhire said he told Mize that he's on a great track.

"Don't try to throw 98 if you can throw 95. Just be within yourself," Gardenhire said. "You don't even have to tell that kid that. He's on a mission. He's going to push the envelope on our bosses here, because he's going to be a fast-track guy. He's got stuff. He's got major league stuff."

Game notes
The Tigers optioned INF Dawel Lugo to Triple-A Toledo after Tuesday's 5-2 loss to Toronto. Detroit has 55 players left in major league camp.