AUBURN | Auburn will be without its ace, sort of, as fall practice gets underway this week.
Junior right-hander Casey Mize, who D1Baseball projects as a top five overall prospect in the 2018 MLB Draft, will not participate in squad games this fall.
Mize missed four starts last season with a forearm strain. He experienced the same issue pitching for USA Baseball this summer.
“Before I even went (to USA Baseball) coach told me, if you feel anything, if you feel any discomfort, probably shut it down,” Mize said. “I hate it, but I called it and said, ‘Hey, coach, I feel it.’ Kind of wanted to stay, but he was like, no, let’s go ahead and shut it down.”
Wade Rackley/Auburn athletics
Mize will begin a throwing program on Oct. 23 to start building up arm strength for the opening game against Longwood Feb. 16.
“I am taking a break from throwing, but I’m still going to be working hard, doing my best to help out in drills and lead these guys,” Mize said. “Be there if they have any questions, and learn from them, too. I’m still lifting, working hard, doing everything everyone else is doing, just not throwing.”
How’s Mize’s arm feeling right now? “Really good. Awesome. Feels better than normal. Feels great,” he said.
Sophomore right-hander Davis Daniel will also be held out of fall practice, but more for precaution than any current issues. Daniel started 16 games last season and threw 15.1 innings in the Cape Cod League this summer.
“You look at it at the end of the day, Davis being a freshman, I put him in the same category with Casey to have a partner,” Auburn coach Butch Thompson said. “It's just a feature to give both of them an amount of rest.”
Daniel was 4-3 with 5.89 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 70.1 innings last season. Mize was 8-2 with a 2.04 ERA and 109 strikeouts in 83.2 innings. Thompson has a unique name for the throwing program both will be going through this fall.
“I'd call it pre-hab,” Thompson said. “Rehab is like getting back from something, pre-hab is more of continuing to see how strong we can get and give us maybe a better chance of getting through that season without having to miss a start or two. That's the goal.”
Fall practice begins Thursday and lasts through Nov. 17 with intrasquad games starting next week on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday. All practices are open to the public.