Casey Mize, one of the Detroit Tigers ' top prospects, is running out of patience . “He's itchin' to go,” Jason Mize, Casey's father, said. “He's ready to go and be out with his friends and ready to play ball. He’s like any 23-year-old would be. He’s ready to get back on a baseball field and get back to work.” Amen to that. I don’t think you can find a Tigers fan, much less any sports fan, who wouldn’t agree with him. Everybody is itchin' for sports to return. “He can’t wait to get back to Lakeland or wherever they end up,” Jason said. “I think he and (his wife) Tali want to get back to Lakeland right now.” CORONAVIRUS & SPORTS: Get the latest news and information right in your inbox. Sign up here. When Major League Baseball shut down because of the coronavirus crisis, Mize, ranked No. 7 on MLB.com's prospect list, moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he has been working out every day. “They just opened up his training facility, so he’s able to go to the training facility every day now,” Jason said. “That’s been real good.” During spring training, it appeared Mize would start the season at Triple-A Toledo. It didn’t take much imagination to think he would make his debut at some point this season in Detroit. But nothing is certain now because of the coronavirus. “It kind of stinks for him more than anything,” Jason said. “Of course we want him to get to Detroit, that’s what he’s worked for his whole life. Our main thing is for him to stay healthy and keep progressing. I think he’s doing everything he can to be ready.” But now everything is up in the air. And Jason is quick to point out he doesn’t know what is going to happen. Nobody does. "Where I used to be the coach and involved and advice giver, Casey's baseball IQ is so much higher than mine," Jason said. "The time I’m with him now, I try to limit my baseball conversation with him and try to be more of just dad now.” During spring training, I decided to try something different. I wanted to profile the Tigers top three pitching prospects — Mize, Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning — through their fathers because they can tell the story behind the story. And yes, Jason is, as he says, just a dad now. But Mize wouldn’t have gotten to this point without his father. Because Jason has been the driving force behind Mize. Quite literally. When Mize was playing travel baseball, Jason always drove a small SUV because it was good on gas and could carry all the baseball gear, coolers and luggage. "We would just pile everything into it," Jason said, laughing. "And go." Jason started to rattle off all the places he and his wife, Rhonda, have taken Mize to play travel baseball: New York, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, South Carolina and all over Florida. “We qualified for the Elite 24 at Disney twice,” Jason said, of one of the most prestigious youth tournaments in the country, held in Orlando, Florida. We qualified. That's how the parents of travel baseball players talk. Because travel baseball is a lifestyle for the entire family. It’s long car rides and staying in hotels and eating dinners with the other families — week after week after week. It’s sitting around, waiting for games or killing time during a rain delay. And it’s burning up vacation time for tournaments. “It was great,” Jason said. “I mean, it was the best quality family time that we could ever get. Seeing different places. Being around like-minded people.” It’s a lifestyle that most elite players are living. Even Tigers CEO Christopher Ilitch has lived that lifestyle when his kids played travel ball. “There were a lot of people at work and friends of ours, who thought we were insane, for doing all of the traveling and everything that we did, but we just thought it was necessary,” Jason said. They never pushed Mize to get to MLB. They were just letting him chase his dreams. But there was an added benefit: It brought the entire family together. “All our memories, or most of them, 90 percent involve baseball or baseball trips," Rhonda said. “As a family, I wouldn't have traded a minute of it, or a dollar of it. People prioritize what is important to them. So it was always important to us and you know, we made some of the best friends through baseball that you know, we still are dear friends with and it's just been worth it.” In early March, Jason and Rhonda did it again. They drove 8 ½ hours from their home in Springville, Alabama, to Lakeland to watch Mize pitch in spring training. “For whatever reason we kind of like the road trips,” Jason said. “I don't like getting stuck in the airport. We choose to drive most of the time.” They were able to watch him pitch against the New York Yankees. “That was one of the coolest events in our lives,” Jason said. “It was very intense. We are still pretty much in awe of all of this. It's very surreal. It's like wow. He's here and he he's really got a shot at this and he's close.” And they were able to hang out with him. During spring training, Mize shared a place with his wife, Tali, and Skubal. “They seem like they've got a very similar personality,” Jason said. “Both are trying to get to bigger and better things, and both are kind of laid back and taking it as it comes.” More importantly, Skubal passed the mom test. "Oh, I love him," Rhonda said. "I fell in love with that kid. He's awesome. We really enjoyed meeting him and hanging out with him. So that was great.” And Skubal also passed the Tali test. "Both Tali and Casey were saying, 'Tarik is so easy to live with,’ ” Rhonda said. “Of course, Tali cooks and she's a really good cook and Tarik likes that as well." What makes Mize so special? “Casey has always had a very unique drive and he has known what he has wanted to do for a long time,” Jason said. “We just provided him with what he needs, the best route, we thought, to get him all the way through.” Mize started playing travel baseball when he was 9, playing on the Alabama Naturals, a team that was coached by Jason. "Coaching to me was an outlet away from my work,” Jason said. “When I got home, I didn't want to bring my work home to my family.” James supervises the drug unit for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. He started out working at the jail, became a patrol officer, worked in SWAT and then moved to narcotics. “I was assigned to the DEA Task Force for seven years,” he said. “I finally took a promotion after 20 years and got promoted Then, they sent me to violent crimes as a detective. Now, I'm supervisor of our narcotics unit.” Jason coached his son for years. He would hold a practice at 4:30 and go back to work afterwards. “Coaching for me was kind of my hobby,” Jason said. “At the time I'd given up fishing. I didn't hunt. I didn't do any of that. Baseball was my hobby." Mize always talked about getting to the Major Leagues. Not if. But when. “As a child, his dream was to get there,” Jason said. “We have just kind of been the facilitators. We have always promoted it and told him you can do whatever you want. You just have to put the work in for it." In a way, Mize is still working for it, training every day, hoping for the season to start, itchin' to get back with his friends. As it turned out, that so-called insane lifestyle worked out just fine for Mize. It got him to this point, with his dad behind the wheel. But now, Jason is just along for the ride. Contact Jeff Seidel: firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.