Donald Veal (STAFF PHOTO/PAM DAVIS)
It didn’t take long for Donald Veal to go in the Rule 5 Draft. One of the Chicago Cubs’ oldest rivals, the Pittsburgh Pirates, selected the left-hander with the fourth overall pick in the draft at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas Thursday.
A second-round pick in the 2005 draft, Veal had one of the best seasons of any prospect in all of minor league baseball in 2006 en route to sharing Cubs Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors with Rich Hill. He combined for a 2.16 ERA in 155 innings between Class-A Peoria and Class High-A Daytona that year.
But Veal struggled in his first taste of Double-A in 2007, walking 73 batters in 130-plus innings and finishing with a 4.97 ERA. Veal said he lost focus and tried to accomplish too much at once.
This past season, Veal was 5-10 with a 4.52 ERA in 29 starts spanning 145-1/3 innings at Double-A. He struggled in the Arizona Fall League, where he surrendered 12 runs and 13 walks in nine innings.
He was used in relief in the Fall League, and Cubs Vice President of Player Personnel Oneri Fleita said the club was considering moving Veal into the bullpen on a more permanent basis.
“His whole area has been command,” Fleita said. “He’s got great stuff (and) it’s all about throwing strikes. But guys that work real hard and guys that are driven, they usually get to that point. He’s one of those guys we’re hoping for the stars to align and he puts himself together.”
But in the weeks leading up to the draft, the Cubs chose not to add Veal to their 40-man roster, thus leaving him unprotected from Rule 5 eligibility. Chicago added right-handers Mitch Atkins, Justin Berg and Marcos Mateo to the roster instead.
Per MLB rules, Pittsburgh must keep Veal on their 25-man roster for the duration of the 2009 season or offer him back to the Cubs for $25,000.
HOLLIMAN, CARTER ALSO TABBED
The Cubs lost two players in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft: RHP Mark Holliman to the Milwaukee Brewers and OF Yusuf Carter to the Oakland Athletics.
Holliman began 2008 at Triple-A Iowa and made five starts before being sent to Double-A. He finished the season with a 4.66 ERA in 108 2/3 innings combined. Holliman was a third-round Cubs draft pick from Ole Miss in 2005.
Carter, the nephew of five-time MLB All-Star Joe Carter, batted .233 with 13 home runs, 18 doubles and 40 RBI in 83 games this past season at Daytona. He was a 12th-round Cubs draft pick in 2005.
CUBS ACQUIRED RIGHT-HANDER PATTON FROM CINCINNATI
CHICAGO – The Chicago Cubs today acquired right-handed pitcher David Patton from the Cincinnati Reds for a cash consideration. Earlier in the day, Patton was selected by Cincinnati in the Major League phase (first round, eighth overall) of the 2008 Rule 5 Draft from the Colorado Rockies Triple-A Colorado Springs roster.
Patton, 24, is 21-25 with eight saves and a 4.46 ERA (159 ER/321.0 IP) in 180 career minor league appearances (18 starts) in the Rockies chain. He was originally selected by Colorado in the 12th round of the 2004 June Draft out of Green River Community College in Auburn, Washington.
In 2008, the six-foot-two, 195-pounder went 4-5 with four saves, a 3.54 ERA (29 ER/73.2 IP) and a career-high 87 strikeouts in 50 games for Single-A Modesto. He limited right-handed batters to a .242 (38-for-157) batting average with 50 strikeouts against him and held hitters to a .214 (15-for-70) batting average with runners in scoring position. He also pitched for the Honolulu Sharks of the Hawaiian Winter League and the Phoenix Desert Dogs of the Arizona Fall League.
In 2006, Patton led all Single-A Asheville relievers in wins (seven), ERA (1.95), innings pitched (73.2), strikeouts (79) and games played (52) and was named to the South Atlantic League mid-season All-Star team.
Chicago’s 40-man roster now stands at 37 players.
– Cubs Media Relations