AFL Quick Hit: Has Donald Veal Turned The Corner?

Donald Veal, acquired by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2008 Rule V draft, may finally be displaying the talent that many have believed he possessed.  He has struggled since being promoted to Double-A in 2007 (with the Cubs) to the point that the Pirates tried him out of the bullpen last season (with awful results).

In the Arizona Fall League, he appears to have rediscovered himself:

3 Wins
16.2 Innings
0.54 ERA
0.74 WHIP
17 Strikeouts (9.44 K/9)
2 Walks (1.11 BB/9)
.259 BABIP

It is obviously an extremely small sample size, so I wouldn’t be hanging your hat on this as a reason to consider him a tremendous sleeper for 2010.  For a player who has been considered one of the Cubs Top 10 prospects in the past, however, there is reason for optimism in the lefty.

Back in 2008 Baseball America had him as the team’s #2 prospect, saying:

“Hitters can’t square up the ball well against Veal because he has quality stuff and hides it with an unorthodox delivery. He has a 92-93 mph fastball that tops out at 95, and he likes to bust hitters inside with a four-seamer and then paint the outside corner with a two-seamer. His 74-79 mph curveball has tight rotation and is a strikeout pitch when it’s on. His changeup is a solid third pitch. He has long arms and operates with a big leg kick and a high three-quarters slot, and his pitches get on top of hitters before they’re ready.”

Of course, there was questions about his control, something he has never fully gotten on track with (career minor league BB/9 of 5.1).  Despite what he’s shown in the AFL, if he cannot avoid walking batters, he’s never going to be successful.

That’s really the bottom line with him, as there is no doubting his raw ability and his ability to get swings and misses (his career minor league K/9 is 9.2).

With the Pirates, he should get the opportunity to challenge for a rotation spot, at least one would think.  That makes him a pitcher that should be eyed by fantasy owners during Spring Training, though he really should only be considered by owners in the deepest of formats.

Considering his struggles with control in the past, it’s just as likely that he finds himself in the minor leagues or in the bullpen, as it is that he has turned the corner and will become a viable fantasy option.  It’s going to take time and results before we fully buy into him, but what his performance thus far has done is put him on the radar.

What are your thoughts on Veal?  Could he become a viable fantasy option in 2010?

To read the previous article, click here.

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