Tigers Prospect Profile #21: Casey Fien

After a very good run as Toledo's closer, Casey Fien got his shot in the Detroit bullpen, with a mixed bag of results in nine appearances. But after a strong winter league showing, Fien is ready to dive back in and make his case for a big league bullpen slot.

Casey Fien
Position: Right-handed Pitcher
Height: 6-2
Weight: 195
Born: 10/21/1983
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

Fien was a 20th round pick of the Tigers out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where he pitched after spending a year each at William Penn and Golden West College.

After signing right after the draft, Fien made his professional debut with the Oneonta Tigers in the New York-Penn League, and he turned in a very nice showing. Appearing in twenty games for the O-Tigers, Fien posted a 2.74 ERA and one save in 42 2/3 innings. Over that span he walked only eight hitters, while striking out nearly a batter per inning (37).

The Tigers logically moved Fien to the Midwest League for the 2007 season and he responded with another very strong season, working largely in a late inning capacity for the Whitecaps. Though he only picked up six saves on the year, Fien finished 21 ball games for the ‘Caps and he notched a 3.10 EAR along the way. In 61 innings that season, Fien amazingly walked only ten batters while striking out a whopping 77.

Fien came out blazing in spring training 2008, impressing the Major League coaching staff and earning some late spring talk as a sleeper for the Opening Day roster. Though he ended up missing the Tigers roster, Fien skipped High-A Lakeland and was assigned to Double-A to start his third professional season. He responded with a 2.96 ERA and 12 saves for Erie, before a late season promotion to Toledo moved him to Triple-A.

The Tigers returned Fien to Toledo to start the 2009 season and he continued to excel in the late innings of tight games; posting 14 saves in 42 outings for the Hens. Over 58 innings, Fien continued to keep his walks down while piling up strikeouts.

After such a successful minor league career, Fien earned his first call to the big leagues in July, when he made his debut on July 26th against at home against the Chicago White Sox. Fien fired 2 1/3 hitless innings with two strikeouts in the Tigers 5-1 loss to their rivals from the south side. By season's end, Fien had appeared in nine games for the Tigers, posting a 7.94 ERA.

Scouting Report
The scouting report on Fien is pretty straight forward; a good, hard fastball, a slider, and a big time competitive streak. Fien's fastball generally sits in the 90-93 range, though he can touch higher on occasion when he reaches back for more. He has a tendency to work up in the zone too much, and that leads to some elevated home run rates. When he works down in the zone, he has enough late life on his ball to avoid consistent, hard contact.

Fien's slider is a second quality pitch, and it flashes as an above average pitch regularly. He is more likely to throw the slider in or around the strike zone, rather than use it as a chase pitch out of the zone. If he can improve his command of the slider enough to work it out of the zone more regularly, it could be that reliable swing and miss offering that every reliever shoots to attain.

Fien does have a change-up in his bag of tricks, though it is a below-average offering and not a pitch he can rely on at the Major League level.

Though Fien is a strike thrower, he lacks the refined command to locate within the zone, and that cost him during his time at the big league level last year. For Fien to experience the same success in the big leagues as he did at the minor league level, he will have to take a step forward in his ability to hit his spots.

Fien is a good athlete that gets off the mound well, and he holds runners solidly. He understands how to mix his pitches and control at-bats, and its just the execution that must catch up. Most scouts view Fien as a 6th or 7th inning guy long term, though a step forward with both his command and the use of his slider could move him closer to a setup reliever ceiling.

To see Weber in action, view the scouting video below:



































Health Record
To date, Fien has been healthy and durable working out of the bullpen. He was tested some last year in his ability to bounce back after multiple innings or on short rest, and he responded positively. His mechanics are clean and he has the potential to be a durable reliever capable of being used in a variety of roles.

The Future
The future is now for Fien. He enters big league camp as a member of the 40-man roster, and he will have a solid chance to open the season in Detroit. With a plethora of relievers in camp, and Fien's possession of two remaining options, it ends up being likely that he returns to Toledo to start the 2010 season. He should see Detroit at some point during the summer, and he could be a significant part of the bullpen going forward.

Mark Anderson is TigsTown's Managing Editor and feature Minor League writer. He can be reached at Mark@TigsTown.com.

Tigs Town Top Stories