Coleman off to Promising Start

Casey Coleman is a product of good lineage. Both his father and grandfather played in the major leagues, and now the third generation pitcher is off to a promising start in his young pro career.

Coleman made stops at three levels of the Chicago Cubs' farm system a season ago, beginning at short-season Class Low-A Boise and ending at Advanced Class-A Daytona. In 14 appearances, including 11 starts, he finished 4-3 with a 3.00 ERA while logging 60 innings.

The right-hander was taken in the 15th round of the 2008 draft after attending Florida Gulf Coast University. With the Eagles, Coleman was a multi-position player. In addition to pitching, he also swung the bat, playing second base, third and shortstop.

But when it came time to play pro ball, Coleman always knew pitching would win out.

"I wanted to hit as long as possible," says Coleman. "But I knew at the end, when it came to professional baseball I was going to have to become a pitcher. It was just because I lacked speed for the position I played, and I didn't have too much power.

"I pretty much knew that as soon as I went to college my future in professional baseball was going to be on the mound."

Coleman's father and grandfather, both named Joe Coleman, were also pitchers. The experience Casey Coleman received from being a mainstay around the dugout and clubhouse during his father's playing days has been invaluable, he says.

"Just with him being in the game helped me out a lot because I would always go to the games and sit in the dugout and just imitate the players," he said. "I think being around the game has helped me out a lot knowing the game and all the situations."

"He would come and watch me pitch," Coleman said of his father. "He would never coach me or anything; he would just let me go."

In college, Coleman showed Cubs scouts a good feel for pitching. He was described by Cubs Scouting Director Tim Wilken as an aggressive pitcher with good command.

Wilken now adds that he can envision Coleman moving up quickly, and last summer the 21-year-old Coleman was promoted twice – first to Class A Peoria and then to Daytona in time for the Florida State League playoffs.

"I wouldn't be surprised at any pace he takes," Wilken said. "As you can see, he had a pretty good summer and he pitched pretty well in the playoffs. He's got an average fastball and there might be more in the tank as he fills out."

Coleman's fastball is regularly 88-92 mph, and he has topped out at 94. He relies heavily on his two-seam fastball, which Coleman says is his bread-and-butter pitch.

"My strengths are movement and location," Coleman said. "I've never really been overpowering. My fastball is 93 every now and then and maybe 94, but the two-seam fastball is my best pitch.

"I throw a changeup and a curveball, and my dad has been working with me on a cutter this off-season. I needed a fourth pitch as a starter."

Down the line, Coleman says there might be a chance to add some zip to his fastball.

"Hopefully I can get on a better routine and gain a little more arm strength and size," he said. "I think just becoming a pitcher will help me out with velocity and to hopefully gain a few miles per hour."

But for now, the Cubs say they are happy with the progress Coleman has made, and the club is likely to leave Coleman in a starter's role. He began last season in Boise on piggyback assignments and by the time he was promoted to Peoria late in July, the Cubs informed Coleman that starting would be his role indefinitely.

"We really like the way he pitches and I wouldn't be surprised at what he does," Wilken said. "We've been kind of blessed. For as many pitchers as we took in this past year's draft, our pitching has stayed pretty healthy."

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