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Coleman's struggles portend a larger trend

CINCINNATI -- Casey Coleman’s lack of progress, which was evident in the Cubs’ loss to the Reds on Wednesday, seems to be a microcosm of an organizational problem for Chicago at the moment.

The Cubs have some good-looking pitching prospects in the lower minor leagues, but their upper levels (Double- and Triple-A) have failed to produce a solid 2011 season for any of the team’s younger pitching prospects.

Coleman, who showed so much promise at the end of 2010, has failed to impress so far this season. Control issues and a planters wart on his right index finger caused him to lose command of his fastball early in the season. Since he was re-called from Triple-A on Aug. 17, Coleman has been going the wrong direction.

“He just did not make many quality pitches tonight,” Cubs manager Mike Quade said after Coleman walked three hitters in a losing effort. “But you just have to keep pitching him and hope he gets better.”

Prospects Jay Jackson and Trey McNutt both have had disappointing minor league seasons. The organization was counting on both pitchers to eventually join the Cubs’ rotation some time in 2011 after strong seasons in the minors in 2010. Truth be told, the Cubs do not have any young starting pitchers other than Andrew Cashner and Jeff Samardzija (currently in the bullpen) to project for their 2012 rotation.

Coleman’s work ethic is off the charts. But if his control issues persist, he’ll continue to have trouble getting big league hitters out. Whenever the Cubs hire their new general manager, his first job will be to try to obtain other solid young pitching from other organizations.