Over the past week, there has been talk about Jim Leyland looking closely at a minor league pitcher. On Tuesday, Leyland revealed that it was Casey Fien (pronounced FEEN). He had this to say about him:
That was the guy I was talking about when I said I'd gone over to the minor-league field to watch someone," Leyland said. "I'd seen someone over there I liked. I liked what I saw the other day, and wanted to see it again....He's not going to be on the team, right now but I want that memory of what I saw on my mind, so if he's doing well, and I don't care where he pitches, I can say, 'Send me that guy.' He could be a candidate at some point.What makes the statements interesting is that Fien has never pitched above A ball and has rarely been ranked by any of the major publications or prospect web sites as even a top 30 prospect. Who is this guy?
Fien is a 24 year old right-hander who was chosen by the Tigers in the 20th round of the amateur draft in 2006. The Santa Rosa, California native attended William Penn for one year and Golden West for one year before spending two years at Cal Poly. He was mostly a reliever at Cal Poly with just 9 starts among 40 appearances. He is 6-2 and 195 pounds.
All his appearances as a pro have been in relief. In 2006, he pitched 42 2/3 inning for Oneonta posting a 2.74 ERA and a 37/8 strikeout to walk ratio. For West Michigan in 2007 he pitched 61 innings and had a 3.10 ERA with an amazing 77/10 K/BB ratio. His 11.36 K/9 innings led the Midwest League.
From what I gather at Motown Sports, he has a fastball which he throws in the low 90s and touches 95 MPH. He also has a good slider but lacks a consistent change-up. His minor league splits indicate that he eats up right-handed batters (.184 BA in 2007) but struggles against left-handers (.291 BA in 2007).
He was expected to begin the season at high A Lakeland but now AA Erie seems more likely and he could be in Detroit sooner rather than later.