Veen cycles, hits first grand slam as a pro

August 25th, 2021

In a debut season that has been nothing short of spectacular, somehow managed to squeeze a bit more out of himself on Tuesday night.

MLB's No. 55 overall prospect tripled in the eighth inning to complete the cycle after slugging his first career grand slam earlier in the game to lead Low-A Fresno past visiting Modesto, 12-9, at Chukchansi Park.

Veen's seven RBIs eclipsed his previous career high of six while his four hits matched a personal best set last month.

"It was certainly a good game," Veen said. "I had a lot of fun out there tonight. Winning the game made it even better."

Having already driven in five runs on three hits, the 19-year-old came up in the eighth needing a triple for the cycle with two runners on. Veen wasted no time, jumping on the first pitch and lining it into right for his fourth three-bagger of the season and a spot in the Fresno record books. It was the first cycle by a Grizzlies player since Derek Fisher on June 1, 2018, and the first ever at Chukchansi Park, which opened in 2002.

"I knew I needed a triple [in the eighth inning]," Veen said. "There's been a few times this year when I've come up needing a triple for the cycle, but I never was able to get one. Tonight I went up there looking for a pitch to drive and this time it worked out."

Prior to his milestone knock in the eighth, Veen was already on his way to one of the best games of his young career. Having plated Fresno's first run with a single in the opening frame, the Florida native came up with the bags juiced an inning later.

A 2-1 offering quickly disappeared over the left-field fence and with it went Veen's 15th homer and first slam as a pro. A double in the sixth set the stage for his cycle two innings later.

"My approach can vary [with the bases loaded] depending on the spot we're in during the game," Veen said. "In that spot, down a few runs and being so early, I was just trying to hit a fly ball into the outfield. I was lucky enough to get the barrel of the bat on it and out it went."

Veen's performance added another layer of shine to what has been a monstrous August. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder has reached base safely in all 18 games he's played in this month while tallying hits in 18 of 19 overall going back to July 31. Veen is batting .429/.488/.729 with 11 extra-base hits and 20 RBIs in 70 at-bats this month.

Since going homerless while hitting .238 with a .704 OPS in his first month as a professional, Veen has lit up Low-A West pitching to the tune of a .331 clip and a 1.008 OPS. Add it all up and last year's ninth overall pick is batting .309/.403/.532 with 42 extra-base hits, 74 runs, 72 RBIs and 30 stolen bases in 90 games.

"I'm not really surprised by the success I've had this year," Veen said. "If I would have told myself earlier this season that I'd be sitting here today with these numbers ... I would have believed it. I know what I can do, but every day is a learning experience. I'd say the biggest thing is learning to deal with the mental side of the things. The ups and downs of the game.

"Coming into this season, I don't think I really knew what that meant. Tonight was one of those positive nights, but no matter what type of game I have, the key is staying consistent regardless of the result."