I am counting down my personal list of the top 25 Pirate prospects. You can follow the countdown here, or by clicking on the “Top 25 Prospects” link in the site header.
Date of Birth: 9/18/1984
Weight: 215 pounds
Drafted: 2nd Round, 2005 – Cubs (Pima CC – Arizona)
Two years ago, Donald Veal was a top prospect in the Chicago Cubs organization. Despite a high walk rate, Veal dominated A-ball in 2006. He struck out 174, posted a 2.15 ERA and allowed only 91 hits in 155 innings. However, he also walked 82 on the season. In 2007, his control worsened, his strikeouts decreased slightly, and his overall numbers took a hit as a result. He still struck out an impressive 131 in his 130.1 innings, but he allowed 81 runners to reach base via walk. He repeated Double-A this past season, and his numbers were even worse. With a similarly poor walk rate, his strikeout numbers dropped considerably. Now 24, Veal seems to have hit a wall at the Double-A level.
The electric stuff that Veal possessed a couple years ago has reportedly deserted him. His stamina seems to have dropped, which contributed to his move to the bullpen. Baseball America had the following to say about Veal in their 2009 Prospect Handbook:
Two years later, he looks like an entirely different pitcher. He’ll still touch 94 mph with his heater, but he usually works at 89-90 and doesn’t maintain his velocity for more than a couple of innings. His curveball is usually a sweepy pitch with little power and only occasional spin, and he has trouble repeating his changeup.
Despite his issues, the Pirates selected Veal in the Rule 5 Draft in December 2008 in hopes he could rebound. He will have to remain on the major league roster for the entire 2009 season, a tall task for a pitcher with serious control issues. The lack of experience above Double-A does not help either. However, if he does figure things out, he would be a great addition to the organization. New pitching coach Joe Kerrigan will undoubtedly be working closely with Veal during the season, which could be very beneficial to the young left-hander. He has gone through some personal issues in the past couple years, which have unquestionably been a distraction. It’s possible that has contributed to his poor showing. This year will be huge for Veal. With another poor season, he will likely fall off most top prospect lists.
Expected arrival in Pittsburgh: 2009
Here is a video of Veal warming up before a game in May 2007.