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Rule 5 Sleepers: Donald Veal And Kyle Bloom

Shane Victorino figurineIf you are really looking at fantasy baseball sleepers for 2009, think Rule 5 draft players.  They are the ultimate sleepers who, left unprotected by their current owners, can be picked up by another club for a paltry 50 grand.  Draft picks must remain on the 25-man Major League roster or Disabled List for the entire season or be placed on waivers and be offered back to their original club.

Rule 5 does the job of balancing the talent between the haves and have nots to a certain extent.  The Yankees, for instance, lost four of the 21 players selected in the Rule 5 Draft in December.

Teams are looking for that diamond in the rough that has been ignored by his current team.  Think Shane Victorino, whom Pat Gillick picked up as a Rule 5 pick for the Phillies. The Flyin’ Hawaiin became the Phillies sparkplug to its World Series championship last season.

The Pittsburgh Pirates were interesting participants in the Rule 5 draft.  The Pirates picked up Donald Veal with their fourth round pick from the Cubs then lost lefty Kyle Bloom to the Padres with the ninth pick.

Donald Veal was the no. 2 prospect for the Cubs in 2007 and the no. 52 prospect overall.  In 2008, Veal struggled and dropped to the no. 6Donald Veal, Pittsburgh Pirates fantasy pitcher Cubs prospect.

Veal has had a tough time personally.  After his mother died from cancer, his father passed away in a scuba diving accident, thus making 2008 a difficult year for the 24-year-old.

Veal is 6’4″ and 215 pounds and reminds scouts of Dontrelle Willis.  He has a 94 MPH heater, but struggles with control.  Veal was 5-10, 4.52 with 81 walks and 123 strikeouts in 145 innings for Double-A Tennessee last year.

It’s difficult to understand why Kyle Bloom was not protected by the Pirates.  I mean, it’s not like the Buccos are loaded with young pitching talent.  Detroit saw Bloom’s potential and nabbed the 25-year-old.

Bloom was 5-8, 4.19, with 93 strikeouts in 110 innings pitched at Double-A Altoona.  The 6′ 4″, 180 pound, Bloom pitched in the Hawaiian League this winter and had a great deal of success.  In 30 IP, he gave up just 15 hits, 11 walks, and 32 strikeouts.  Bloom’s Hawaiian League performance should raise hope of a better WHIP going forward, but it needs to be remembered that the Hawaii Leauge is basically made up of Single-A hitters.

FBD thinks Veal will not stick with the Pirates this year.  The Pirates are strong from the left side in starting pitchers with Paul Maholm, Tom Gorzelanny, and Zach Duke lining up to return.  In the bullpen, Matt Capps will close, but the Pirates have lefties John Grabow and Sean Bennett too.  While Veal has potential, he has not progressed much recently.  Will the Pirates want to carry a third left-handed reliever who walks 6 per 9 innings and was an underwhelming .249 last year facing lefties?

Kyle Bloom pitched at Illinois StateBloom is a different story.  While Baseball America suggested that the lefty Bloom might sneak into a no. 4 or no. 5 starting spot, FBD doesn’t think so.  Newly acquired Edwin Jackson is the clear no. 4 man now behind Justin Verlander, Armando Gallaragga, and Jeremy Bonderman.  Bloom’s chance would be to beat out Veal’s comparison player, Dontrelle Willis.  Willis started seven games last year and had a stratospheric ERA of 9.38.  Gone is Kenny Rogers, but the Tigers still have Zack Miner and erratic lefty Nate Robertson who will compete for the fifth starting position.

FBD thinks Kyle Bloom will earn a role in the bullpen in middle relief for manager Jim Leyland.  Lefty Bobby Seay will be there (60 games, 1-2, 4.47) and the Tigers are hopeful that southpaw Macay McBride will be back.  McBride pitched for Atlanta from ’05 to ’07 before being sent to the Tigers in ’07.  He injured his arm in the first inning of his season as the starter for Triple-A Toledo and later had Tommy John surgery.  Tommy John surgery usually requires a 9-12 month recovery time, but McBride is said to be ahead of the curve for getting back sooner.

Due to their high walks and corresponding high WHIP, neither of these pitchers should attract much fantasy baseball interest in 2009 except in the deepest of leagues where Bloom is the recommended pick to round out your pitching staff.

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