DONALD VEAL
LEFT HANDED PITCHER
Born: September 18, 1984
Height: 6′ 4″
Weight: 230
Bats: Left
Throws: Left
Drafted: 2nd Round, 68th Overall, 2005
How Acquired: 2008 Rule 5 Draft, 4th Pick
High School: Buena (Sierra Vista, AZ)
Agent: Landis, Seal & Ware Baseball

WTM’S PIRATE PLAYER PROFILES

The Pirates selected Veal in the 2008 Rule 5 draft.  He’s drawn comparisons to Dontrelle Willis, as he’s a big LHP with a high leg kick and very good stuff, mainly a reported mid-90s fastball and a sharp curve, although his velocity has been mainly in the low 90s, up to about 93, since he joined the Pirates.  Veal has been hampered by significant control problems, though, which is why the Cubs risked losing him in the draft.  The Pirates, however, decided the upside was worth the gamble.

2005
R:  0-1-0, 5.06 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 4.2 BB/9, 11.8 K/9
A-:  1-2-0, 2.48 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 29 IP, 4.7 BB/9, 10.6 K/9

Veal debuted with four games in rookie ball, then moved up to the short season Northwest League.  He was hard to hit and fanned a lot, but also walked a lot.

2006
A:  5-3-0, 2.69 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 73.2 IP, 4.9 BB/9, 10.5 K/9
A+:  6-2-0, 1.67 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 80.2 IP, 4.7 BB/9, 9.8 K/9

Splitting the season evenly between the two class A levels and continued to be very hard to hit.  Between the two levels he held batters to a .175 average and struck out 174 in 154.1 IP.  He also continued to walk a lot.

2007
AA:  8-10-0, 4.97 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 130.1 IP, 5.0 BB/9, 9.0 K/9

Veal went into the season regarded as one of the top lefties in the minors, but his control problems began to undermine him.  He spent the year in AA and got hit harder than in the past, with opponents batting .256 against him.  Combined with five walks per nine innings, that left him with a high WHIP.

2008
AA:  5-10-0, 4.58 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 145.1 IP, 5.0 BB/9, 7.6 K/9

Veal returned to AA and, although his ERA dropped, things went further downhill.  His velocity dropped to 88-93, accompanied by a lower K rate, and he started having trouble with gopher balls, as he allowed 19.  Batters also hit .276 against him.  A series of personal tragedies almost certainly impacted him as well.  The Cubs sent him to the Arizona Fall League in 2008 and he walked 13 in nine innings.

2009
AA:  0-0-0, 1.35 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 6.8 BB/9, 12.2 K/9
AAA:  0-1-0, 6.43 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 14 IP, 10.3 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
MLB:  1-0-0, 7.16 ERA, 2.33 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 11.0 BB/9, 8.8 K/9

The Pirates said Veal wouldn’t make the roster unless he made progress with his control.  He pitched well early in spring training, but control problems re-emerged and he had some rough outings.  The team kept him anyway, probably in part because nearly all the relievers competing for spots were unimpressive, to put it mildly.  They managed to hide him in the bullen, rarely using him outside of mopup situations, and even then only reluctantly.  The Pirates also bought time and a string of minor league appearances by placing Veal on the DL twice with phantom injuries.  Veal threw only 50% of his pitches for strikes during the major league season.  The control problems weren’t any better in the minors, either.  Between the majors and minors he walked 46 in 43.1 IP.  He could still miss bats–he struck out 47–and he was hard to hit in the minors, as his .126 opponents’ BA showed.  After the season, he went to the Arizona Fall League and all of a sudden turned things around.  His control was good and he dominated in most of starts, despite the hitting-friendly environment in the AFL.

2010
AAA:  3-2-0, 4.35 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 49.2 IP, 4.2 BB/9, 7.4 K/9

Showed improved, although far from good, command in spring training, then opened the season in the Indianapolis rotation.  He pitched well in his first four starts, but except for one outing in which he threw seven shutout innings, struggled through the next five.  Even then, his control was better than in 2008-09.  It turned out, though, that Veal needed Tommy John surgery, which he had in June.  After the season, the Pirates removed Veal from the roster and signed him to a minor league deal.

2011
R:  0-0-0, 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 1.2 IP, 10.8 BB/9, 16.2 K/9
A+:  0-1-0, 2.79 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 19.1 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.4 K/9
AA:  0-1-0, 7.71 ERA, 1.93 WHIP, 4.2 IP, 0.0 BB/9, 5.8 K/9
AAA:  0-0-0, 5.68 ERA, 1.90 WHIP, 6.1 IP, 9.9 BB/9, 9.9 K/9

Veal returned around mid-season and threw 32 innings total at four different levels.

The Tommy John surgery was an unhappy setback, as Veal was making real progress with his command.  His struggles in his brief time in AAA showed that he’ll have to struggle to get back to where he was.  He’ll be a minor league free agent after the season.  The Pirates probably will try to sign him to another minor league deal.

STATS
Baseball Reference–Majors
Baseball Reference–Minors
Fangraphs
MLB.com
MiLB.com
CONTRACT INFORMATION
2011: Minor League Contract
2009: $400,000
PLAYER INFORMATION
Signing Bonus: $530,000
MiLB Debut: 2005
MLB Debut: 4/7/2009
MiLB FA Eligible: 2011
MLB FA Eligible: N/A
Rule 5 Eligible: Eligible
Added to 40-Man: 12/11/2008 (Removed 12/2/2010)
Options Remaining: 2 (USED: 2010)
MLB Service Time: 1.000
TRANSACTIONS
June 7, 2005: Drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 2nd round, 68th overall pick; signed on June 30.
December 11, 2008: Selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Chicago Cubs with the 4th pick in the 2008 Rule 5 draft.
December 2, 2010: Designated for assignment by the Pittsburgh Pirates.
December 4, 2010: Signed a minor league contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates.