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'Mom, I'm going to play on that field one day' - baseball's Casey Mize
With his picture hanging on the wall in Jay Jacobs' office, Casey Mize talks pitching with Auburn's Director of Athletics. Photo: Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics
Oct. 18, 2017

By Jeff Shearer
AuburnTigers.com

AUBURN, Ala. - As a 7-year-old on an Auburn football Saturday, Casey Mize remembers taking a detour to Plainsman Park to watch baseball practice.

"My mom brought me down to the field because I loved baseball," Mize says. "I said, 'Mom, I'm going to play on that field one day.'"

Fast-forward 10 years. Casey emerges as one of the state's top high school pitchers at Springville near Birmingham.

Another Auburn football game takes a baseball twist on Sept. 14, 2013, when Auburn offers Mize a scholarship the day C.J. Uzomah caught a game-winning touchdown pass to beat Mississippi State.

"I committed that day," Mize says. "That was a great day in my Auburn story."

The son and grandson of Auburn fans, Mize made his Auburn debut on Feb. 19, 2016, Butch Thompson's first game.

"I never will forget that moment," says Mize, who pitched the final two innings in Auburn's 10-5 win over Sacramento State in front of 3,665. "It was awesome. I got the last out of the game. It was truly special."

Mize remembers thinking, "I made it. This is a steppingstone for my ultimate goal, and I made it here, so now it's time to keep going."

After leading the Tigers in strikeouts as a freshman, Mize delivered one of the most dominant pitching seasons in Auburn history as a sophomore in 2017, striking out 12 batters for every walk.

"I'm trying to attack hitters," says Mize, who struck out 109 while walking only nine in 83.2 innings. "Every at-bat, I'm trying to strike them out. I want to bring their confidence to an all-time low. I want them to not be confident next time they come up to bat, and I think that's the best way to do it, is to try to strike them out, so that's my philosophy."


 

 

<em> Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs invited ace pitcher Casey Mize to the AD's office to share Casey's Auburn story. Photo: Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics</em>
Director of Athletics Jay Jacobs invited ace pitcher Casey Mize to the AD's office to share Casey's Auburn story. Photo: Todd Van Emst/Auburn Athletics

Mize finished his sophomore season with a gem, striking out 12 in a complete-game 5-3 win over Tennessee Tech in the NCAA regional in Tallahassee, Florida.

"Nothing is going to top Tennessee Tech for me," says Mize. "I knew it was a big game. That was honestly one of the best moments of my career."

After going 8-2 with a 2.04 ERA last season, D1Baseball.com ranked Mize as the No. 5 major league draft prospect for 2018.

"My ultimate goal is to be a big leaguer and stay there," Mize says. "That's in the back of your mind, but I've learned to keep it there.

"Nothing is guaranteed. This, right now, is guaranteed. So that's why I'm fully committed to this program and I'm fully committed to trying to go to Omaha this year, and that's the ultimate goal right now."

Mize turned down his first opportunity to play professional baseball after high school, declining interest from teams that considered drafting him.

"The money didn't add up for what I valued for my Auburn experience," he says. "I couldn't be happier with the decision I made. Looking back, it seems like it shouldn't have been a decision at all, it should have been college all the way.

"I've grown so much mentally and physically. I've put on 45 pounds since I've been at Auburn. Gotten much stronger, much bigger, and I've gotten a lot smarter when it comes to baseball. I've learned so much from our great coaches, Coach Thompson, everybody who has been involved in this program helped me."

While some elite high school players are ready to be professionals, Mize says most would benefit from college baseball.

"You've got to find your own identity and find your own routine," he says. "I think there's not a better way to do that than going to college."

After he's thrown his final fastball, Mize may follow his brother, father and grandfather into law enforcement.

Before the big leagues and the police academy, Mize will have one more spring at Plainsman Park, confounding hitters and thrilling Auburn fans, one Casey masterpiece at a time.

"My experience has been incredible, and I really couldn't ask for things to go my way more," Mize says. "I'm very thankful for it."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter:

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