Veal, Scorpions shut out Saguaros in AFL

Veal, Scorpions shut out Saguaros

Pirates prospect Donnie Veal is aware of the Arizona Fall League's reputation as a hitter's paradise, but his numbers tell a different story.

Veal improved to 2-0 and dropped his AFL ERA to 0.71 on Saturday, allowing two hits and striking out five over four innings in the Scottsdale Scorpions' 6-0 win over the Peoria Saguaros.

"It's a high-scoring league. It's a hitter's league, absolutely. I mean, I was here last year, and it seemed like College World Series games every other day," said Veal. "But I've been able to execute pitches, and I think if I can keep doing that, I can keep getting guys out."

The 25-year-old lefty was limited to fewer than 30 Minor League innings this season after being acquired by the Pirates from the Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft. Pittsburgh took advantage of opportunities to send Veal to the disabled list so he could make rehab appearances as often as possible, and the club is using fall ball to groom him as a starter, a transition Veal said he is enjoying.

"It's obviously good to know you're pitching every five days. You can get a set schedule in between starts and work on what you need to work on."

The Scorpions had dropped five straight heading into Saturday's matchup, and they were facing a team that was riding a seven-game winning streak. The Saguaros lineup also features several of the strongest hitters in the Minors, like Freddie Freeman (Braves), Jonathan Gaston (Astros) and Yonder Alonso (Reds). Veal, however, tried to concentrate on pitching his own game.

"If I'm able to execute and locate pitches, then I know I'll be good to go no matter who's up there," he said. "There's a lot of great hitters. Every lineup [in the AFL] is full of great hitters, but I know if I can get ahead, that's a key. That's a big key out here, because guys are sitting dead-red. They don't miss if they get their pitch.

"Each lineup is nine-deep. There's no break in any lineup, so if we're able to put up a shutout like we did today, that's a great day for us."

Veal's strong start set the tone for the rest of the game, and the Scottsdale bullpen followed his lead. Takanobu Tsujiuchi and Matt Reynolds (Rockies) each breezed through two innings, and Scott Mathieson (Phillies) entered in the ninth.

After Mathieson issued a two-out single and then a walk to load the bases, Veal said he was on the edge of his seat.

"Absolutely. Any time a pitching staff can put up a shutout out here," he said, is a game to remember.

He breathed a sigh of relief when his teammate got Brandon Hicks (Braves) to fly out to center to end the game.

Domonic Brown (Phillies) led the way for the Scorpions offensively, doubling, knocking in three runs and crossing the plate once himself. Brandon Crawford (Giants) was 3-for-5 with two stolen bases and a run scored.

Indians prospect Carlton Smith (0-1) was stuck with the loss for Peoria after allowing three unearned runs over two innings pitched.

Freeman and Zack Cozart (Reds) each had a pair of hits for the Saguaros.

Although Veal and the Scottsdale bullpen had a haunting effect on the Peoria bats, he said he had no plans to go trick-or-treating.

"I'm probably going to watch the World Series and just relax for a little bit."

Josh Jackson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.