Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Fien joined the Tigers as a 20th round selection in the 2006 draft, after spending a year at William Penn, a year at Golden West Community College, and two years at Cal Poly. As a freshman with William Penn, Casey posed a nice 6-4 record before transferring to Golden West where he logged a 3-2 record with four saves during his one season at the JUCO ranks. For his efforts with Golden West, Fien was named a to the All-Empire Orange 1st Team.
Upon transferring to Cal Poly, Fien worked primarily in relief, starting only nine of his forty regular season appearances. In only 16-2/3 innings as a first-year player at Cal, Casey notched a single save and a 4.32 ERA with 18 strikeouts. Taking on a much more substantial role during his final collegiate season, Fien saved two games and walked only 14 batters in nearly 100 innings of work.
The Tigers left Fien in a relief role upon turning pro, as he pitched very well for Oneonta of the New York-Penn League. In 42-2/3 innings, Casey walked only eight opposing hitters and notched a 2.74/1.10 line for the O-Tigers. His success continued with West Michigan in 2007, as Fien became an extremely reliable relief option for ‘Caps Manager Tom Brookens. In 61-innings, he posted an impressive 7:1 strikeout to walk ratio, and finished the season with a 3.10 ERA in 39 appearances. On the back of a 1.17/0.59 line with over eleven strikeouts per nine innings, Fien took home the TigsTown West Michigan Pitcher of the Month award for June 2007.
Fien is another in a long line of hard-throwing minor league relievers in the Tigers' system. With a fastball that sits in the 91-93 range, and can touch 95, Fien can get in on hitters with ease. His heater has some weight to it, and he has shown some ability to turn it over and induce groundballs, though he lacks the consistency to be considered a sinker-slider guy. Casey's slider is an excellent pitch, with tremendous late bite as it crosses the plate. His slider typically remains in one plane, much like a cutter, but it does gain some depth at times.
Fien's change-up lags significantly behind his other two offerings, and this has gotten him in trouble against lefties as a pro. In 2007, while right-handers only hit .184 off of Casey, lefties managed a .291 average in 79 at-bats. If he can continue to develop his change-up into a reliable third offering, he could become an extremely successful setup man. Without progress from his change-up his future becomes much cloudier.
Fien has excellent command of both his fastball and slider, and despite his refusal to give in to hitters, he doesn't walk batters and keeps himself in pitcher's counts where he can control the situation. He has a slight tendency to elevate his fastball with runners on base, and he must improve upon his ability to throw strikes at the knees from the stretch.
Casey is a strong competitor with a desire to succeed and a very good work ethic. He has the right approach to succeed in the bullpen, and with increased experience and durability he could become a very nice everyday option out of the ‘pen.
Performance Level Team W-L ERA G GS SV SO BB IP AVG A
Fien has been healthy to date as a pro, but with the organization's restrictions on reliever use at the lower levels, he really hasn't been tested in terms of durability. His second season in full-season ball should provide a sterner test.
Casey should be headed to Lakeland to start the 2008 season, and his numbers should continue to be aided by the offense hindering environment of the Florida State League. At 24-years old, Fien needs a very strong year at Lakeland to remain on the prospect map, as he will be a couple of years older than most of his competition.
Despite a plethora of bullpen arms at the upper levels of the system, Fien could get a shot at the Erie bullpen with a strong start to his season. He has the drive to succeed, now he just needs to make a couple of strides with his overall arsenal, and he could become an intriguing relief prospect.
Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.