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Detroit — When he's in the right mood, Miguel Cabrera likes to joke around.

Of course, who knows if he was joking Monday night when he told reporters, including 97.1 The Ticket's Will Burchfield, that he would like to see the Tigers' No. 1 overall draft pick, Casey Mize, in the major leagues this season.

"Why not?" Cabrera mused.

Scott Pleis, the Tigers' director of amateur scouting, said early Tuesday morning that Mize, the Auburn right-hander, has "MLB-stuff right now," but he later clarified that he didn't mean Mize is major-league ready right now. There's a difference, of course, mostly emotionally.

Meanwhile, relayed Cabrera's comments, Mize wasn't biting.

"I would say I would like to get (to the majors) as efficiently as possible, not as quickly as possible," Mize said. "Whenever I'm ready, whenever Scott and Al (Avila, general manager) decide I'm ready."

It's rare, but top draft picks have previously made it to the majors in the year they were drafted.

More: Tigers' Blaine Hardy undaunted by the challenge of facing potent Red Sox offense

In recent Tigers history, North Carolina left-hander Andrew Miller, the No. 6 overall pick in the 2006 draft, was called up to Detroit in August of that season. A same-season call-up supposedly was part of his signing-bonus negotiations.

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That 2006 Tigers team was steamrolling toward the playoffs, though, and needed any quality reinforcements it could find. This team is in rebuild mode, despite a better-than-expected start.

In all likelihood, Mize's path will be similar to last year's first-round pick Alex Faedo, who didn't pitch after his college career ended. He made his pro debut this season.

Mize has what scouts consider four "plus" pitches, but his workload, like Faedo's a year ago, has been substantial, and Auburn still has games to play. The school has advanced to the NCAA's Super Regionals.

"He's not done yet," Pleis said. "We're gonna take our time with Casey."

The big day

What's a day in the life of a No. 1 pick like?

Mize shared details of his Monday.

It started at 5:30 a.m. in Raleigh, N.C., where Auburn was playing in a regional the day before. He then was in a car for eight hours with his parents and girlfriend, as they headed back to Auburn. They returned to town shortly after 1 p.m.

"Then I ate lunch with my brother and girlfriend," said Mize, "and hung out for a couple hours, watched some college baseball."

They then headed over to the football complex for the draft party, attended by lots of family members, friends and teammates.

And shortly after 7, he was the No. 1 overall draft pick.

When did he find out he was the Tigers' guy?

"I knew it," said Mize, "when you all knew it."

Mize's day ended after midnight, following a lengthy conference call with reporters from Detroit.

This and that

■ Mize went from being undrafted out of high school in Springville, Ala., to the No. 1 overall draft pick three years later. The secret to success, according to Mize: Listening and learning.

"My goals were to learn, I think that's the reason I got to the point I am at now," he said. "I knew I needed to get better."

He credited multiple coaches, from Auburn, the Cape Cod League and Team USA.

"I knew I needed to gather as much knowledge as possible," Mize said.

■ How much pressure is there associated with the No. 1 overall pick, or 1-1 as it's often called?

"It's huge ... just kidding," Pleis said early Tuesday. "There's always pressure that comes along with this stuff, but it's a tremendous opportunity to bring high-end talent into the organization. ... When you prepare, it takes a lot of that pressure off you, because you know you're going to make the right decision."

The Tigers' only other No. 1 overall pick, Rice pitcher Matt Anderson in 1997, ended up being a bust.

■ Oregon State left-hander Luke Heimlich remained undrafted through 10 rounds. He has one of the best arms in the country, but is a very controversial figure after pleading guilty to molesting his 6-year-old niece when he was a teenager.

Pleis was asked if the Tigers scouted him and were considering him. His response was short, but telling: "I'd rather not even talk about him."

tpaul@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/tonypaul1984

 

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