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There aren't many men on the planet who know what Casey Mize is going through.

Phil Nevin is one of them, and he's got some words of wisdom for the kid.

"Just keep baseball fun," Nevin, now the third-base coach for the New York Yankees, told The News late Monday night, as the Yankees were preparing to board a plane from Detroit to Toronto.

"Obviously, get your work in, but just keep it fun. He'll work his tail off for sure — he had to, to get where he's at — but, also, listen. Keep your ears open and listen to all the great people around him."

Nevin is now 47, and 12 years removed from his last major-league game, and 26 years removed from 1992, when the Houston Astros made him the No. overall 1 pick in the 1992 Major League Baseball Draft. On Monday, the Tigers made Mize, 21, the Auburn ace, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft.

Detroit's game-day stadium crew showed the announcement on the videoboard at Comerica Park on Monday night, when the Tigers and Nevin's Yankees were playing Game 2 of a doubleheader.

Nevin, by the time he talked to The News after Monday night's game, had seen Mize interviewed, and came away impressed — and certain Mize will handle things better than he did.

"I think the pressure's gonna still be the same," Nevin said.

Nevin, a big, right-handed slugger, actually was drafted in the third round out of high school by the Los Angeles Dodgers, but chose not to sign. 

Instead, he attended Cal State-Fullerton, and three years later, he was the Astros' top pick.

Nevin, a 21-year-old firecracker back then, thought he should head right to The Show.

Instead, the Astros sent him to Triple A in 1993 — still a lofty starting spot, at least by today's standards. He stayed there all of 1994, too, playing a total of 241 games at Triple from 1993-94. He wasn't happy.

"There were some conflicts," Nevin said. "It was immaturity on my part.

"I didn't use the learning process of the minor leagues to get better. I didn't use the resources around me, the good people I had around me. Eventually in my career, it hit home and I was able to apply those things, but (at first) I thought I had it all figured out, I didn't need any guidance."

Finally, Nevin got to the major leagues in 1995, but by that time, relationships between him and Astros brass were severely strained, and when the Tigers came calling on that player-to-be-named from an Aug. 10 trade of former All-Star closer Mike Henneman, the parties settled on Nevin.

In June 1992, he was the No. 1 overall pick. He played 18 games for the Astros before he was traded.

Nevin played parts of three mostly unremarkable seasons with the Tigers, from 1995-97, before Detroit gave up and sent him to the Angels, along with catcher Matt Walbeck, for someone named Nick Skuse.

It took until 1999 with the Padres, already his fourth team, before Nevin became a legit standout. Over the next eight years, he averaged 22 homers, 81 RBIs and an .842 OPS.

"My best advice, don't put a timetable on it like I did," said Nevin, who later in his baseball career managed the Tigers' Triple-A affiliate in Toledo (2011-13) and had on his staff A.J. Sager, who now is a roving pitching coordinator who will work closely with Mize. "I didn't expect to be where I was at, and I didn't handle it well. It wasn't where I wanted to be, the timetable I set for himself."

Mize, by most accounts, could pitch in the major leagues right now and be just fine, after a three-year, decorated at Auburn that's still going, after this weeknd's regional win.

Scott Pleis, Tigers director amateur scouting, says he has MLB-stuff "right now." 

After Monday night's 4-2 victory over Nevin's Yankees, Tigers star Miguel Cabrera joked Mize should pitch in the majors this year, like, you'll remember, Andrew Miller did late in 2006, after the Tigers drafted the lanky left-hander out of North Carolina earlier that summer.

Asked about that off-the-cuff comment, Mize delivered a measured and mature answer — and answer that would've had Nevin nodding his head.

"I would say," said Mize, "I would like to get there as efficiently as possible, not as quickly as possible."

More: Meet the eight No. 1 draft picks who played for the Tigers

Things are different in the draft today than they were way back when.

Nevin was holed up in an Omaha, Neb., motel room, as his Fullerton team was in town playing in the College World Series. ESPN wanted a staged shot of the "phone call," on the hotel rotary phone. It was a call that Nevin got over other standout amateurs like Jeffrey Hammonds (No. 4 to the Baltimore Orioles), and Derek Jeter (No. 6, to the Yankees).

The MLB Draft wasn't broadcast live like it is these days, like Monday, when Mize's emotions were front and center, for all to see, in real-time on MLB Network.

There's also the money issue. Nevin got $900,000 in 1992, a nice chunk, but a pittance by today's standards. Mize will fetch more than $6 million and maybe as much as $8 million. Even Nevin's own son, Tyler, received way more than he did — $2 million — "and he was a sandwich pick," Phil Nevin said, laughing. Tyler Nevin was the 38th overall pick by the Colorado Rockies in 2015.

Nevin had some advice for Mize on that front, too.

"It's life-changing money for this kid, obviously," Nevin said. "Just surround yourself with good people. Watching the interview today, and listening to him, I'm sure he does.

"Keep those people close, and he'll get the right direction.

tpaul@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tonypaul1984

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