I was walking behind the bleachers at McKechnie Field the first time I heard it.
It was a glorious sound. The sound that so many of us have heard throughout our lives probably several thousand times. But this time it was different. It was crisp. It was louder. The sound was very distinct. A pop that was so quick it demands attention. I had to immediately find out who was responsible for such a glorious sound. My pace quickened.
The sharp popping of a Pittsburgh Pirates catcher’s mitt is something that makes me smile, especially as I am speed walking to the Pittsburgh Pirates bullpen during a bright sunny day in Spring Training.
The sound is heard a lot more now especially with our relief corps, but this was two years ago.
When I reached the bullpen area I was first impressed with the size of the man making Ryan Doumit’s mitt explode. It was Pirates left hander Donnie Veal. Joe Kerrigan was all over the young lefty. Each pitch was watched closely. It was easy to see the guy was special.
He is recovering from Tommy John surgery after pitching with the Indianapolis Indians last season. He pitched well with Indy, but the news of the TJ surgery was insanely disappointing.
Veal didn’t have many opportunities to pitch for the Bucs after being the Pirates Rule 5 pick. So after the 2009 season, he headed to the Arizona Fall league with plenty to catch up on and much to prove. He was planning to work on several of the adjustments Pirates pitching coach Joe Kerrigan had suggested. Veal took a new delivery and a new power pitcher mentality to the desert.
Veal was described as being unhittable in one outing. There was no denying that it had finally clicked for Veal in the Arizona Fall League.
He pitched extremely well, so well in fact that the Pirate lefthander went 1–0 with a 0.00 ERA and was named the AFL Pitcher of the Week on November 2, 2009. In two starts with the Scottsdale Scorpions, he surrendered five hits and two walks while striking out seven batters in 7.2 innings of work.
Veal was named to the All-Prospect team when the AFL season concluded. He wrapped up the AFL by allowing five earned runs, 17 hits during his 21 innings of work. The bad guys hit .221 against him.
The control was back too. He struckout 22 and walked seven.
“He threw the ball over the plate more. The stuff is electric. He doesn’t need to paint the corners, and he went out and didn’t do that. He was really good early and still finished pretty strong.”—Kyle Stark
In case you didn’t see the first post on Veal that Rumbunter did here it is….this is why we feel compelled to cheer just a little bit harder for Donnie Veal.
We’re really glad he is back.
Follow us on Twitter because we love power pitchers.