Detroit Tigers: Can former top prospect complete the comeback story?

Casey Mize had loads of hype around him when he was drafted. Then the injury bug struck him down hard. Mize returned to the mound for the first time since 2022 in Spring Training and looks to return to form.

Caey Mize looks to become a face fans recognize on Detroit Tigers Photo Day.
Caey Mize looks to become a face fans recognize on Detroit Tigers Photo Day. / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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In the 2018 MLB Draft, the Detroit Tigers selected Auburn pitcher Casey Mize with the first overall pick. I had the chance to watch that draft pick with Craig Monroe on the big screen at Comerica Park between games of a doubleheader against the New York Yankees. I was excited, the town was excited. Having just moved on from beloved ace Justin Verlander, Tigers fans felt like they got their next ace. I am not one to jump on hype trains quickly, but I believe I am one of the few who have walked through the gates of Comerica Park sporting a Casey Mize No. 12 jersey.

Casey Mize made his MLB debut in the odd, mostly forgotten 2020 MLB season. He struggled, but it was a good time to get MLB experience. The big step came in 2021 when Mize launched himself toward the top of the Tigers rotation after posting a 3.71 ERA in 30 starts with the team. There was a case for him to be the Tigers representative in the All-Star Game that season, and deservedly so. There was plenty to look forward to going into his 2022 season. Then, disaster struck.

2022 was a rough year for Mize as he only pitched in one game before getting injured. The worst-case scenario was confirmed — Mize needed Tommy John surgery. This held him out for an entire year, and Mize injured his back during his recovery, delaying his comeback even more. Fans questioned if they would ever see Mize in a Tigers uniform again. Mize was eligible for arbitration in the 2023 offseason, and the Tigers had a decision to make. It was ugly, but the two sides agreed to terms for the 2024 season.

Now spring training has begun, and Casey Mize has made his return to the mound. Mize gave up two runs in 1.2 IP in his first action since 2022. It's a step forward. It is not a stellar performance, but the guy is on the mound again. As important as it is to be productive, being smart about recovery is equally important. It is time for the Detroit feel-good story to finally come true. Casey Mize could return.

Casey Mize wants to take the reigns of the Detroit Tigers starting rotation and make the feel-good comeback story one that fans will remember for years to come.

The Detroit Tigers have plenty of flexibility in their rotation and Casey Mize should be a piece that makes the starting five this season. Mize has shown flashes of good pitching and deserves to get a fair chance at a comeback from Tommy John before writing him off completely. If healthy, there is not much argument that Mize is one of the Tigers' top five starters. Not every player can come up to the big leagues at 20 years old and dominate for 15 years. Fans should not expect that for every player. To give up on Mize already is a waste of talent and potential.

Mize hopes to settle into the rotation and prove his doubters wrong. I hope my Casey Mize jersey isn't the only one roaming Comerica Park as well.

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