The Pirates selected Donald Veal in the major league portion of the Rule 5 Draft today. Veal is 24, and a former top prospect in the Cubs organization. Primarily a starter, he has posted impressive strikeout rates while struggling with his control. After an very good first season in Single-A in 2006, Veal has struggled the past two years in Double-A. He has experienced difficulty in his personal life, losing his mother to cancer in 2004 and his father in a scuba diving accident last year. That has left him to take care of his younger brother, currently attending the University of Arizona. Veal began working out of the bullpen in the Arizona Fall League, and the change may take his career to the next level. He seems to be a very smart guy, and hopefully he can stick with the team for the entire season. He could be an effective LOOGY, with the potential to start down the road.
The Pirates lost Kyle Bloom to the Tigers in the draft. Bloom seemed to figure things out in the second half of 2008, and pitched very well in Hawaii this winter. But he was facing younger competition in Hawaii, and the reality is he will be 26 next season, and was only decent in Double-A last year. It would have been nice to keep him in the organization, but I can’t see him sticking in the major leagues for the entire season.
In the Triple-A portion of the draft, the Pirates selected pitchers Andres Santos, Rafael Quintero and Gerardo Esparza. Each played in rookie ball last season, and each was successful. Santos recently turned 22, and struck out 49 and walked 16 in 48.2 innings in the Dominican Summer League. He started nine games and made 13 total appearances. Quintero is a catcher turned pitcher, with 2008 in the DSL being his first full season on the mound. He was very good, striking out 48 and walking just 5 in 46.1 innings. He is 21. Esparza is 21, and struck out 59 while walking 22 in 69.2 innings in the Venezuelan Summer League. All were a bit old for the level, but all could have a future with the team.
The Pirates did not take a player in the Double-A draft, as only one selection was made in that portion. The Pirates did not lose any players in the minor league draft.