Marc Hulet did an excellent job at Baseball Analysts covering the tantalizing Rule 5 pitching options. One I want to cover today is Cubs lefty Donald Veal. If memory serves right, it wasn't too long ago people were calling him the next Dontrelle Willis. At the time, that was a compliment, so people weren't saying Veal was an explosion waiting to happen. Unfortunately for the Cubs, Veal's control issues have hindered his once blazing future, dimming it to where the organization feels it can move on without Veal.
Veal is a southpaw, which naturally gives him increased market value. Throughout his minor league career, Veal showed the ability to maintain good FIPs despite his walk rates. Furthermore, Veal's stuff is good enough: a low-90's fastball along with a decent curve and change-up. In this interview with Baseball America, Veal spoke about his supposed "slow curve" and the one aspect of his game he felt most comfortable in, to which he said:
DV: Right now, location of my fastball . . . that and my changeup. My curveball is probably the thing that I'm least confident in. I'm working on getting more consistent with it. When I was hurt, I didn't really throw it . . . didn't want to do too much and hurt my elbow or back. So, it just got rusty and I just have to get the feel of it back again.
That's what I worked on most of the year. It started to come around toward the end of the year, but I still got a lot of work to do on it.
Veal's minor league numbers against lefties look pretty good as well; a .249 batting average against, 8.45 strikeouts per nine innings, 5.97 walks per nine, and 0.28 homeruns, with a groundball heavy batted ball portfolio. Nate Silver has done work on starters transitioning into relievers, and found the pitchers who benefit the most from the role change are those with higher walk rates, higher strikeout rates, and low isolated power rates, with the walks and isolated power totals being the most important. Veal checks in on both, and uses an arm that teams swoon over.
By now, I'm sure you see where this is going. With relief pitching starved teams like Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Atlanta, and Cleveland picking in the top half of the Rule 5 draft, there's little chance Veal goes unpicked, despite each having other left-handed relief options. I doubt Veal could step into a rotation and be successful, however in a relief role, particularly facing left-handed batters, an opportunistic team could find themselves a cheap and efficient reliever with the ability to become more.