Chuckie Fick: Grown Up Around the Game

Dustin Mattison caught up with pitcher Chuckie Fick after the end of the Quad Cities' 2008 season.

The St. Louis Cardinals selected Chuckie Fick in the 15th round of the 2007 MLB First-Year Player Draft.  The organization knew the pitcher very well; his father Chuck Fick is a long-time Cardinal scout.

 

During his final season at California State – Northridge, Fick really struggled, posting a 7.11 ERA in 50.2 innings.  Control was a major issue for the 6-foot-5 right-hander, as he issued 34 walks compared to 26 strikeouts. 

 

After signing, Fick was assigned by the Cardinals to Johnson City, where he posted a 1.29 ERA in eight appearances including two saves.  He was then promoted to the Quad Cities, where he made nine more appearances to close out the season.  In 25 innings, the California native posted a 2.16 ERA.  

 

The Cardinals would assign Fick back to the Quad Cities to start 2008 and that is where he would spend his entire season.  In his first full year of professional baseball, Fick finished with a 6-5 record and a 3.17 ERA.  The 22-year-old has seemed to gain a handle on his control, striking out 67 compared to only 15 walks.  In his last six starts, he worked six or more innings on five occasions. 

 

In his last eight starts, he went six or more innings in seven of those starts.  Of those seven, Fick posted a 36-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

 

I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Fick after the end of his first full professional season.  The Seinfeld fan was kind enough to share his thoughts on working in the same organization as his father and growing up around the game. 

 

 

Dustin Mattison: What was your first full season as a professional like?

Chuckie Fick: This year went a lot smoother than I thought it would. Everyone talks about how hard the first full season is, but I felt pretty good all year. I prepared pretty well physically. Mentally it got tough at times but everyone came together and helped each other get through it.

DM:  What were your goals going into the season? Did you reach them?


CF: My goals for the year were to throw 110 innings split between Quad Cities and Palm Beach, to have an ERA below 3.00, and to stay healthy. I thought I set very solid and realistic goals for myself and in my eyes I achieved them. Not pitching in Palm Beach isn't up to me so I'm not worried about that. My main goal was to stay healthy and I did except for getting sick and missing one start on a freak catch play incident when I got hit in the arm.

 

I am definitely going to build on this year physically and come back even better next year. Innings wise, I ended up throwing 119 between Quad Cities and Extended Spring and was just a tick above 3.00 in the ERA department.

DM: Tell me about your pitching repertoire.


CF: There isn't too much to get excited about here. I throw a two-seam sinking fastball that sits anywhere from 85-89 MPH.  I touched 90 for the first time in over a year in my last start. I haven't thrown a four-seamer since high school.  I think if I were to throw one, my fastball would be a little firmer. I also throw a curveball and a slider. I use the curveball mainly to lefties because of its 12-6 break that comes in around 71. I throw the sweeping slider to right-handers and it comes in around 74-77. My change up is still a work in progress right now, though it has improved a lot this year, but still has a ways to go.

DM:  Explain to me your bad pitching mechanics.

CF: Ha ha, I see you have read about me. It's more a joke between my college roommate and I then the actual truth. My mechanics I feel are pretty clean all the way until foot strike, and then my front side opens up. It helps me turn the ball over and get more sink to my fastball, but it costs me velocity as well. As with my change up, my front arm is a work in progress.

DM: What are your feelings on the tandem-pitching season?

CF: I don't mind it; I also am biased towards it because I benefited from it this year. Without it, I might not have ever been given the opportunity to start and show the organization what I can do. I think it's a good way to save arms in the lower levels while we are still young and adjusting to pro ball. Also I think it sorts guys out, and makes it more obvious who is better suited for starting or relieving.

 

DM: Has the organization given you any indication if your future is as a starter or reliever?

CF: They haven't given me any word on what my future role will be but hopefully I made up their minds this year to keep me as a starter. I prefer to start but I will do anything it takes to pitch in the big leagues.

DM: What is it like to have the same employer as your Dad?

CF: I'm going to be honest; when I was a kid, I didn't want to be "that guy" who got drafted by his Dad's team. Now I'm older and I know that if it hadn't been the Cardinals it would have been someone else. I know there was a lot of nepotism claims when I was drafted and I thought nothing of it, because I know I belong here just like the rest of the players in the organization. I'm happy that we have the same employer. Whenever Mr. Vuch or Mr. Luhnow comes into town, I'm not timid like some other guys. I know them on a personal level and I go and say, "Hi."

DM: As I mentioned your dad is in baseball as is your uncle, Robert Fick. What was it like as a kid growing up in the game?


CF: It helped a lot in my development on the mental and physical side of the game. Both my Dad and my uncle were catchers and they were able to teach me the game on both sides of the ball. When it came time to hit they threw good batting practice and when it came time to pitch, they taught me how to set up hitters and stress the importance of location and changing speeds.

Growing up in the game, I also became very desensitized to the stardom of a major leaguer. I was never into autographs or had a favorite player, because my Dad would have players come and sign at the house, and a few years later they were in the big leagues.

 

My uncle Robert is probably the biggest kid that I know. He and guys like Jeff Weaver and Adam Kennedy would come to my house and play basketball in my front yard. When I was beating those guys in pick up games at age 12, I figured out real quick that big leaguers are just like the rest of us, kids playing a game.

 DM: You are a California boy; how often do you get to surf?


CF:  I surf quite a bit. I'm about a 20-minute drive to some good beaches so it doesn't kill my gas tank too much. All my best friends are surfers and I work at a surf shop in the off-season so when its not baseball time, its surf time.

DM: What is your favorite Seinfeld episode?


CF: My favorite episode is probably the mango episode in season 5 when Kramer gets banned from his local fruit stand. Anything with Kramer as the main character plot is an instant classic.

DM: What are your plans for the off-season? Any word on instructional league?

No instructional league for me this year.  I went last year for three weeks and that was more than enough for me. As for the rest of the off-season, I will work just enough to get by, go to the beach, and spend time with my girlfriend who hates that I haven't been home much since we have started dating.

 

I also plan to change up my workout routine this year. My friend is a personal trainer and he works for a program called P3 at Pepperdine University. A lot of the local players do it, so I'm going to give it a shot and see if it will help out.

DM:  What should Cardinal fans know about you that they might not already know?

CF: I think they should know that I despise Cubs fans and their hopelessness. Also I listen to weird music and I'm a rock star at heart during batting practice.

 

DM: I asked Fick if he would share his thoughts on Richard Castillo.  Chuckie was kind enough to give a scouting report on his teammate at the Quad Cities.

 

CF: Richard is an 18-year-old Venezuelan who has a fastball that sits between 86-90 that guys swing and miss at a lot. It looks a lot harder than it actually is and it jumps on hitters. He has a plus 12-6 curveball that is just wicked. He is a great kid and a hard worker.

 

I thank Chuckie for taking the time to share his thoughts with the readers of the Birdhouse.  I wish him a long and successful career with the St. Louis Cardinals. 

 

 

Dustin Mattison can be reached via email at dustin@whiteyball.com.

 

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