Casey Coleman Interview

SEVIERVILLE, Tenn. -- Right-hander Casey Coleman has been one of the most consistent members of the starting rotation at Class AA Tennessee. Coleman, the Chicago Cubs' 15th-round pick in the 2008 draft, leads the Smokies' staff with six wins and a 3.03 ERA through 13 starts. He has 38 strikeouts to 26 walks in 74 1/3 innings.

Q: How would you describe your pitching style?

A: I pitch to contact. I get a lot of ground balls. It has been good playing on this team with the infield we have: Darwin (Barney) at short, Tony (Thomas) at second and Marquez (Smith) or (Jonathan) Mota at third. I'm not going to strike a lot of people out; I just get a lot of ground balls and hope they don't hit the ball hard.

Q: Have you always been a ground ball pitcher?

A: In college I was more of a fly ball-strikeout pitcher because in college with scouts watching your games, you have to throw. If you want to get drafted high, they want to see velocity so I was kind of reaching back and throwing as hard as I can when the scouts were there. Once I got into pro ball, (pitching coordinator) Mark Riggins noticed I had a good two-seamer so I just worked on it and now I throw that mainly.

Q: You were selected in the 15th round. Do you think teams made a mistake passing on you?

A: No, it's tough to go out there as a six-foot right-handed pitcher, and in college I threw in the low 90's; maybe 92, 93. I don't feel anyone made a mistake. I'm just happy that the Cubs picked me. Going into the draft, I really didn't know what to expect. I don't know if I got taken above what I should have been or below; I'm just glad it worked out with the Cubs.

Q: You were drafted out of high school but decided to go to college. Looking back, do you think that was the best decision?

A: Yeah, definitely. Unless you're coming out of high school as a first, second, or third rounder, I think you learn a lot in college baseball. You get to see a lot of real good talent and when you come out of college, you have a chance to move up quicker, I think. Coming out of high school, they aren't going to rush you; they have a lot of time with you and they keep you in rookie ball. I'm glad I got to skip those leagues and college really prepared me for pro ball.

Q: Did you ever expect to go straight from high school to the pros?

A: There were scouts at a few of my games in high school and they talked with me. I filled out paperwork. I knew I wasn't going to be picked very high because I was real small in high school; maybe 165 or 170 pounds and I didn't know what to expect then, either. I pretty much knew I was going to college.

Q: What do you consider your best attribute as a pitcher?

A: Last year it was strikes; throwing a lot of strikes. This year I can't really say that, because I've walked more than I usually do. Forcing bad contact I guess, movement on pitches and being able to throw every pitch for a strike. At this level, you can't just throw a 2-0 fastball -- these guys will crush it -- or even a 3-1 fastball. So just being able to throw every pitch for a strike has been my best attribute so far this year.

Q: What major league pitcher would you compare yourself to?

A: Riggins, our pitching coordinator, compared me to David Cone. Some people compare my motion to Kevin Brown with the turn I have.

Q: Do you work on anything specific with pitching coach Dennis Lewallyn?

A: He's been a big help to me. Every bullpen, he makes sure my arm angle is where it needs to be and working on both sides of the plate, instead of just going out there and going through the motions and throwing pitches in there. He makes sure I focus on the things I need to do to get better for my next start.

Q: What's your typical training regimen during the season?

A: Pretty much all the starters are on the same thing. Run after you pitch, and I try to get in the weight room two to three times in between starts and do as much as I can in there. During the season it's pretty tough. I don't want to do too much and be sore for my next start, but I still have to get in there as much as possible.

Q: If you keep your success up, do you expect to be promoted soon?

A: I don't think about that really. Being 21 in Double-A, I never expected to be here in the first place. But now that I'm here, I can't just be happy. I can't just be satisfied. Now I have to make bigger goals. My bigger goals are to make it to the big leagues, but I don't want to set a timetable for that. I just have to keep it going out there, getting outs and helping my team win games. Whatever happens is going to happen.

Q: Do you envision yourself as a No. 1 starter in the majors?

A: No, just because I don't think I have the stuff that No. 1's out there have. No. 1's typically are strikeout guys; guys that go out there and don't get a lot of contact. I think I can see myself anywhere from three-to-five in a rotation just because they need guys who can go out there and give them innings late in a series and I can do that.

Q: What do you consider your most effective pitch?

A: Two-seam fastball; it's a sinker. My curveball is okay; I can throw it for strikes. My changeup keeps hitters off balance, but when I get a lot of bad contact on ground balls, it's usually on the sinker.

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