In Part Two of our interview with Oakland A's Baseball Operations Analyst Farhan Zaidi, we discuss…
Oakland A's Profile: Dana Eveland, P
Name: Dana Eveland
H/W: 6'1''/ 250 LB
Eveland's career thus far has been marked by nearly flawless work at the minor league level and struggles in the major leagues. He began his pro career in 2002, when he was selected as a draft-and-follow in the 16th round of the 2002 draft by the Milwaukee Brewers. Eveland signed with Milwaukee in May 2003 and spent the rest of the 2003 season with Helena of the rookie-level Pioneer League. He had an impressive first season as a pro with Helena, saving 14 games and striking out 41 in 26 relief innings as a 19 year old.
The left-hander began the 2004 season with Beloit of the Low-A Midwest League, where he was once again impressive. In 22 games (16 starts), Eveland was 9-6 with a 2.84 ERA and 119 strike outs and only 24 walks in 117.1 innings. That effort earned Eveland a late-season promotion to Double-A Huntsville, where he had a 2.28 ERA in four starts.
Eveland began the 2005 season back with Huntsville. He got off to a strong start to the season, going 10-4 with a 2.81 ERA in 18 starts for Huntsville. That earned the 21-year-old California native a promotion to the major leagues. He made his major league debut on July 16, 2005 as a reliever. He struck out the first batter he ever faced in the big leagues, Vinny Castilla, but he was inconsistent during his first stint as a major leaguer. In 27 relief appearances for the Brewers in 2005, Eveland had a 5.97 ERA in 31.2 innings. He struck out 23 and walked 18 and allowed 40 hits. After the season, Eveland was sent to the prospect showcase Arizona Fall League.
In 2006, Eveland was assigned to Triple-A Nashville to start the season. He was recalled to Milwaukee in mid-May when the Brewers lost starters Ben Sheets and Tomo Okha to injuries. Eveland failed to secure a permanent spot as part of the Brewers' pitching staff, however, as he allowed at least four runs in all five of his starts. He was removed from the starting rotation at that point and made four relief appearances with the Brewers before being sent down to Triple-A for the rest of the season. He would finish his time in the big leagues in 2006 with an 8.13 ERA. In Triple-A, Eveland had a 2.74 ERA in 105 innings.
That off-season, Milwaukee included Eveland in a big trade involving the Arizona Diamondbacks. Eveland was sent to Arizona along with Doug Davis and David Krynzel in exchange for Johnny Estrada, Claudio Vargas and Greg Aquino. Eveland entered the 2007 spring training as a candidate for the Diamondbacks' rotation, but he struggled and posted an 8.25 ERA for the D-Backs during the spring.
Eveland began the 2007 season with Triple-A Tucson, where he once again found success. In seven appearances (five starts), Eveland had a 1.95 ERA for the Sidewinders despite pitching in a hitter-friendly environment. He had a brief stint with the Diamondbacks in April, making two appearances and allowing three runs in 1.1 innings. Eveland was limited to only 27.2 innings with Tucson thanks to a torn tendon in the middle finger of his pitching hand that cost him more than a month. He recovered in time to be a September call-up for the Diamondbacks. He allowed five runs in 2.2 innings in a start on September 1, and threw one scoreless inning the rest of the season.
This off-season, Eveland participated in the Mexican Winter League in an attempt to regain the innings he lost thanks to the finger injury. He starred for the Aguilas de Mexicali despite missing time due to a bout with salmonella poisoning. In 61 innings, Eveland had a 2.51 ERA and struck out 69 against 15 walks for Mexicali this winter.
Based on his minor league totals alone, Eveland would be considered a top left-handed starting pitching prospect. Despite having five minor league seasons under his belt, Eveland will be only 24 throughout the 2008 season. He has a 2.61 ERA in 413.2 career minor league innings and an impressive 406:127 career K:BB ratio.
Unfortunately for Eveland, his prospect status has been hindered by his poor showings at the major league level early in his career. In 64.1 major league innings, Eveland has a 7.55 ERA and an anemic 58:39 K:BB ratio. He has allowed 87 hits and has thrown four wild pitches.
Another factor that has caused many scouts to write-off Eveland is his weight. The left-hander stands at only 6'1'', but he tipped the scales last season at 260 pounds. That weight hasn't appeared to have affected Eveland's stamina thus far in his career, but it has caused many scouts to worry that Eveland won't age particularly well.
Few scouts dispute the fact that Eveland has the stuff to be a major league starting pitcher, and some scouts believe he could be a number two or three starter. Eveland throws four pitches: a four-seam fastball, a slider, a curveball and a change-up.
His fastball sits comfortably in the low-90s and was clocked as high as 94 MPH during the Mexican Winter League season. He holds his velocity well deep into games and gets good movement on the pitch. His curveball and slider are both above-average pitches and his change-up can be effective at times, although it is inconsistent. Eveland uses a cross-fire delivery that makes it difficult for left-handed hitters to pick-up his release point.
In the minor leagues, Eveland has shown good control and he mixes his pitches well. He has also been very adept at changing speeds and he adds and subtracts well off of his fastball. Eveland has done a good job keeping his pitches down and inducing groundballs. In 413.2 minor league innings, he has allowed only 17 homeruns.
Even though Eveland is no longer rookie-eligible thanks to his time in the big leagues with Milwaukee and Arizona, he is still an unknown commodity at the major league level. Although he has struggled badly during his brief stints in the big leagues, his minor league track record and his still-young age are indications that Eveland could have a very productive major league career.
The A's certainly see Eveland as someone who could be an above-average major league starter for a number of years. Barring injury or a horrible showing during spring training, Eveland should be one of the A's five starters at the beginning of the 2008 season.
"He's a guy that we look at as being not just a back-of-the-rotation starter, but something even better than that. We think that more than anything else, his major league struggles have been a result of nerves," Farhan Zaidi, A's baseball operations analyst, told OaklandClubhouse.com in late-December.
"Our scouts believe he has the stuff to get big league hitters out on a consistent basis. He's going to have the opportunity to be a part of our rotation here. Sometimes the best values you can get in these deals are players that you believe can be good major league players who maybe have scuffled a little bit in their first major league experience. That is kind of what we see a little bit with Eveland. He certainly still has to prove himself."
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