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Donnie Veal

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Donald Tyrone Veal II
(Junior)

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[edit] Biographical Information

Pitcher Donnie Veal is a cousin of former minor league infielder Kevin Johnson (more famous as a NBA All-Star and mayor of Sacramento, CA).

Veal was born in Mississippi but his family moved to Arizona when he was 6 years old, when mother Tanya got a job at the Fort Huachuca military base. He set a school record with 19 strikeouts in a game as a junior, then made second-team All-State as a senior. He also played basketball in high school. He finished in the top 3% of his class. The Chicago White Sox took him in the 12th round of the 2003 amateur draft but he did not sign.

Donnie enrolled at the University of Arizona on a baseball and academic scholarship. His mother died of stomach cancer in November of 2004 and Veal transferred to junior college. He was 8-5 with a 3.65 ERA in 2005, striking out 119 but walking 53 in 74 IP. The Chicago Cubs took the big left-hander in the 2nd round of the 2005 amateur draft, the 68th overall pick. He was signed by scout Steve McFarland for a $530,000 bonus.

Veal split his 2005 minor league season between the AZL Cubs (0-1, 5.06 in 4 G) and Boise Hawks (1-2, 2.48, 34 K, .180 average in 29 IP). In 2006, Donnie dazzled, splitting Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors with Rich Hill. He was 5-3 with a 2.69 ERA in 14 games for the Peoria Chiefs, allowing a .179 average with 45 hits in 73 2/3 IP while striking out 86. He was promoted to the Daytona Cubs, where he went 6-2 with a 1.67 ERA, .170 average (46 H in 80 2/3 IP) and fanned 88. He led all Chicago farmhands in walks (82), strikeouts (174), lowest average allowed (.175) and ERA (2.16). Had he qualified, he would have beat out Chase Wright for the Florida State League lead in ERA. He allowed the lowest average of any starting pitcher in the affiliated minors that season and tied Philip Hughes for 10th in ERA. He was 6th in strikeouts in the affiliated minors. Baseball America rated him as the #2 Cubs prospect, the #9 prospect in the Midwest League and the #5 prospect in the FSL, behind Homer Bailey, Yovani Gallardo, Scott Elbert and Ryan Braun.

In 2007, Veal went 8-10 with a 4.97 ERA for the Tennessee Smokies, striking out 131 in 130 1/3 IP but walking 73 and allowing a .320 average versus left-handers; surprisingly, right-handers were much lower at .240. Veal led all Cubs farmhands in walks and tied Kevin Hart for the most Ks. He led the Southern League in free passes.

Veal's father had a heart attack while scuba diving in Mexico in November of 2007. That left the 23-year-old in charge of the family's estate. He was also left to take care of his younger brother, Devin, who was a college student.

With many more off-field responsibilities than your typical minor leaguer, Donnie returned to the diamond in 2008 with the Smokies. He fell to 5-10, 4.52 while battling pressure on and off the field. He walked 81 in 145 1/3 IP while fanning 123. He led the Southern League in both walks and wild pitches (18). He led Cubs farmhands and Southern League pitchers in starts (29). He was 10 strikeouts behind SL leaders Todd Redmond and Tony Barnette.

Veal was chosen by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2008 Rule V Draft that winter. When hearing of their new acquisition, many Pirates fans associated the name with Bob Veale, another hard-throwing, African-American left-hander. Donnie made the 2009 Pirates out of spring training. His major league debut came on April 7 during a blowout loss to the Cardinals. Veal relieved Ian Snell with a 8-1 deficit in the 5th inning. He allowed a solo homer to Yadier Molina on his third MLB pitch, then fanned both Joe Thurston and Kyle Lohse. Veal walked Skip Schumaker and Colby Rasmus on four pitches apiece, then issued another 4-pitch walk, this one to Albert Pujols. He recovered to fan Chris Duncan to end the inning. Sean Burnett replaced him to open the 6th.

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