Chuckie Fick very quietly put together a terrific season for the River Bandits, posting a 3.17 ERA over 20 games. I recently had the chance to catch up with Chuckie for a little Q and A, and he was kind enough to oblige.
How was the 2008 season for you?
The 2008 season was great for me. I accomplished just about everything I set out to do. I always heard that the first full season is the toughest, and at times it was. Overall, it was much better than expected. All the guys I played with this year were great and its nice to have a good group of guys to be around.
Give me a little scouting report on yourself.
I throw a sinker that sits between 85-89 mph. In college it used to top out regularly at 90 and sit at 87-88, but only once this year in my last start did I touch 90 and it usually average around 86-87 this year. I don’t throw a 4-seam and that was something my pitching coach really stressed to me this year for when I move up. I throw a 12-6 curve ball and I can throw it anywhere from about 65 to 72. The slower one early in the count and the harder one late in the count. I primarily use it to left-handed hitters. My slider is more of my out pitch and I throw it about 74-78. I use it most on righties because it sweeps away from them with my lower arm angle. My 4th pitch is my change up which I didn’t throw as much as I’d like to this year. Right now its more of a show me pitch, but late in the season I started to use it more and get some more guys out with it.
Your dad is a scout in the organization, and the Cardinal organization is one that really seems to stress the importance of throwing the two-seamer. Was throwing the sinker something your dad impressed upon you?
Not one bit, my Dad stopped having any influence on what I did when I got to high school. He’s actually been trying to get me to throw more 4 seam fastballs so that my velocity will be better.
Do you feel any additional pressure to prove yourself to those who might say the Cardinals only drafted you because of your father?
I don’t feel the slightest bit of pressure because I know that I belong where I am. Anyone who puts me under a microscope because of who my Father is can continue to do so if they please, they are the ones fretting over it, not me. There were so many nepotism claims when I was drafted and it didn’t and still doesn’t bother me one bit. They were going off my junior year stats and they had a right to be skeptical. That is why they call it scouting though, not mathematics.
Looking at your numbers, you had one of the lowest walk rates of any starting pitcher in the Midwest League. What does that mean to you?
It means a lot to me actually. That was one of the things my Dad did influence me on, was throwing strike one. Walking guys became a pet peeve of mine and was something I really prided myself on not issuing any. All year Ace Adams, our pitching coach, just kept telling me to throw my sinker and let guys get themselves out in one pitch, and that’s what I did. Getting ahead and throwing strikes down in the zone allowed me to work deeper into games, and that is what a starter is supposed to go out and do.
How different do you feel on the mound when you’re in a groove?
Being in a groove is the biggest key for me. I tend to work extremely fast and so if I am getting lots of outs, everything works like clockwork. When in a groove, anyone who steps up to the plate in my mind, is already out. I watch him walk up to the plate and usually wait for him to get in the box and then I come right at him.
How about when you’re struggling?
If you ask any pitcher or baseball player in general, when you are struggling, the game speeds up. I usually just step off the dirt on the mound, take a deep breath, and slow things down. I’m the pitcher and I will control the speed of this game. The one thing I learned in college was to “keep it small”. I try to keep it small. Whether it be one run or three runs. Sometimes when the bases are loaded and nobody is out, three runs isn’t all that bad. If they get three, then that is all they are going to get for the game and after the inning is over, I get myself back into my groove.
Were you able to get to work at all with Brent Strom this past season?
I was able to work with him this year. I fly open with my front side and he spoke with me several time on how to remedy that. Strom is great to have around because he is very knowledgeable and supportive of everyone. Even though he is our mechanics guy, he helps a lot with the mental preparation to pitching. I hope he doesn’t read this and I don’t want to say he is bad luck, but both times when he was in town, I didn’t throw very well. So hopefully I won’t see much of him next year if I’m throwing that day.
Out of all the Midwest League hitters you faced, who was the toughest out?
OK. This is a deep one…When are Pam and Jim finally going to tie the knot?
I honestly don’t know. It has been driving me crazy. At this rate Dwight has a better shot of getting married than Jim does. Just do it already and invite Michael to the wedding and let him make a speech.
Thanks to Chuckie for his time and answers, and best of luck to him as he moves up the ladder next year.