Who: Harold Louis Coleman
DOB: 4/4/1986, Schlater, Mississippi
Weight: 195 lb
Acquired: 2009 Draft – 5th round
~ Baseball America: #19
~ Royals Prospects: #17
~ Royals Review #22
~ Kevin Goldstein: 17
~ John Sickels: #13 B-
I should just get this out of the way. Louis Coleman might be my favorite prospect in the whole system. I really don’t know how that happened, but it did.
It started shortly after he was drafted in 2009. Knowing he was a leader in Louisiana State’s College World Series championship run that summer helped. That was also the summer I started to look deeper past the first level of star prospects when checking minor league results. As Coleman picked up one scoreless appearance after another in 2009, he opened 2010 in Northwest Arkansas and continued the momentum.
I guess I just like it when a relief pitcher can maintain better than a 4/1 K/BB ratio. Call me crazy, but it gets my attention.
Through 113.2 innings, Coleman has held minor league batters to a .181 average and has walked just 29 batters in that span. The result? Through four levels of the minors, he’s carrying a sub-.900 WHIP.
Scouts both love and hate his delivery. Baseball America calls his “slinging crossfire delivery . . . both a long-term health concern and a huge part of his success.” Coleman hasn’t run into arm troubles yet with the delivery and works to deceive right-handed batters. He has solid command of a 91-93 mph fastball and isn’t afraid to throw it inside, which gives his decent slider that gets a boost from his ability to work inside. BA mentions that he needs to improve his changeup since his delivery is easier to pick up from that side of the plate.
They project him as a seventh-inning reliever, but he’s got the potential to be so effective in that role that he’s still ranked very high in prospect lists. Considering that the Royals could have Coleman, Tim Collins, Jeremy Jeffress and Joakim Soria in their bullpen is a harrowing thought for the rest of the American League Central division. If Coleman’s the black sheep of that bunch, I’d feel pretty good after six innings for the next handful of years.
Coleman was drafted by Atlanta in 2005 out of high school, so Dayton Moore’s had him on the radar for a while. Coleman returned to school for his senior year despite a 14th round selection by Washington in 2008. He told Greg Schaum it was because he wasn’t satisfied with their finish and wanted to win a title with his teammates. Not only did he help them reach that goal, but he was the SEC pitcher of the year in 2009 and made the last out to clinch the series.
The Royals have used him in relief almost exclusively – he’s got one minor league start under his belt in 56 appearances – but he pitched in every role for LSU. As a college pitcher, the Royals got him with an eye towards a quick rise through the minors and Coleman hasn’t disappointed yet. He’s dominated at every stop so far. I thought he should have been a September call up last season but he stayed in Omaha. No matter. He has a more than realistic chance to make the club out of spring training, but it’s almost guaranteed that he’ll make his major league debut in 2011.
Barring arm troubles, Coleman’s peripheral numbers suggest that he’ll have success after he adjusts to the big leagues. With every promotion, he’s remained consistent and while his BB/9 increased once he hit Double A (the biggest jump short of hitting the majors), his strikeout rate did as well. Batters had the same difficulties hitting him as they had in 2009 at LSU and as a pro. He carries a bit of hidden value since, as a middle reliever, a manager might be more apt to use him for multiple innings unlike a closer. He could be to a contending Royals team what Matt Belisle was to the Rockies or Tyler Clippard was to the Nationals in 2010. He may not ever close full-time (thought I think he could), but he’ll still get a lot of important late-inning outs.
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