Cubs rookie pitcher Casey Coleman has enjoyed varying game-to-game success, inducing a plethora of ground balls and keeping the ball out of the air in general.

The 15th-round draft pick in 2008 doesn’t have blue-chip prospect “stuff,” but he can certainly provide some value out of the Cubs’ fifth spot in the rotation.

Coleman works with a solid two-seam fastball that hovers around 90 m.p.h., as does his four-seam fastball. His two-seamer has good run, which is where he gets his majority of ground balls, while his four-seamer has a bit more of a cutting action.

Cubs fans, if you are expecting the next coming of Randy Wells, you will be sorely mistaken. Coleman will never be a strikeout man, as his career K/9 in the minors was 5.00. Look for a poor man’s Derek Lowe or Tim Hudson as his career standard. Coleman is making hitters swing and miss only 5.2 percent of the time, compared to the league average 8.4 percent.

What Coleman can deliver is a lot of ground balls, while hopefully minimizing the home run. With a capable defense behind Coleman, he can become successful. If his infield defense fails him by not getting to ground balls, he will falter.

What Coleman needs to do is simply pitch to contact. That has been a struggle in and of itself thus far, as he is posting a below average Zone percentage (42.2 percent; 46.8 percent average). This leads to Coleman posting a Carlos Marmol-like walk per nine innings pitched (4.74).

To make matters worse, there is evidence of Coleman struggling with runners on base. His walk rate skyrockets and he is allowing more hits with runners on than with the bases empty. This hints at the idea of Coleman struggling to find comfort with a slide-step, or that he loses effectiveness and/or command with it. If that’s the case, he should just abandon the slide-step, a la Greg Maddux, and just focus on the batter and let his pitches induce a double play.

Coleman has much to learn in terms of pitch location and selection, but he looks like he has the tools to become a viable back-end starter. Time will tell if he adjusts to Major League hitting and avoids the walk. If he doesn’t, his career will be short in the show, and he will be a Triple-A career starter.

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