All eyes will likely fall on Casey Mize and his performance on Opening Day at High-A, and he deserves the attention as one of the better pitching prospects in the game. At the same time he was matched pitch-for-pitch by the Yankees’ Clarke Schmidt and that can’t go overlooked. Look at the lines from what was an epic pitcher’s duel while it lasted:
- Casey Mize – 5.0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 BB, 8 K
- Clarke Schmidt – 5.0 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 9 K
Mize, drafted first overall in the 2018 draft, is a well known commodity. What about Schmidt, though? A first round pick in 2017 (16th overall), the now 23-year old didn’t make his professional debut until 2018 due to Tommy John surgery (he had undergone the procedure prior to the draft). Just looking at what Schmidt said after the game courtesy of Tyler Maun of MILB.com (click here for the article), it’s easy to get excited about the potential stuff:
“Something that I know is the biggest thing for my advancement through the Minor Leagues is my fastball command. I know I have the off-speed command and the stuff to back it up. It’s just continuing to progress with that fastball command. If I can continue to go out there and throw strikes and keep the walks down and get a lot of ground balls, especially with how my sinker and the two-seam have been working for me, it’ll be a fun year.”
Given the surgery and lack of experience since being drafted it’s easy to overlook Schmidt, but at his age he has the potential to move quickly (or as quickly as an innings limit will allow him to progress)… Though will his future lie in the bullpen?
Baseball America noted in their profile prior to the season numerous questions that could limit him:
- Will his size (he’s listed at 6’1”) and “high-effort delivery” ultimately lead to a shift to the bullpen?
- Will his changeup develop into a third pitch to help keep opposing hitters off-balance?
This first start is going to add some intrigue and shows the potential he has if it all can come together. A trip to the bullpen is not a lock and if he can continue to match the performance of pitcher’s like Mize his status is going to only grow. For now keep a close eye on him, as his grade could rise if the production continues.
Current Grade – B
Upside Grade – B+
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Baseball America