Veen's speed helps get Salt River in win column

October 13th, 2022

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The who has been on display through the first week and a half of the Arizona Fall League has looked entirely different from the one who scuffled upon his promotion to Double-A Hartford in August. So, what has been the impetus for the transformation?

“I’d say how much I matured,” Veen said. “I had never really dealt with failure before, and that was really my first time getting kicked in the teeth and I definitely needed it.”

The Fall League has begun with Veen kicking back. The reigning AFL Hitter of the Week collected a pair of hits and stole three bases in the Rafters’ 7-5 victory over the Scorpions at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick on Wednesday night. Through six games, Veen is hitting an even .500 (9-for-18) with seven walks to just one strikeout and a league-leading seven steals.

After batting .269 with an .806 OPS for High-A Spokane to begin the year, Veen, the Rockies’ No. 1 prospect, slashed just .177/.262/.234 in his first taste of Double-A. But the club’s first-round pick (ninth overall) in the 2020 Draft insists that part of the season is behind him.

What has remained consistent for Veen is his ability to take over a game on the basepaths. The first run of the contest for Salt River was a direct byproduct of the 20-year-old’s patience and baserunning acumen.

Veen, hitting second and getting the start in left field, walked in the bottom of the first and went on to swipe second base. Honing in on Scottsdale starter Allan Winans’ motion and tendencies, Veen got a spectacular jump on his way to third, forcing catcher Adrian Sugastey (the No. 19 Giants prospect) to airmail a throw into left field. Veen trotted home, triumphant.

“I’d be lying if I [said] I wasn’t trying to get him to do that,” Veen said of the backstop’s throwing error. “I’m glad it worked the way I wanted it to.”

Veen’s supreme aggressiveness on the basepaths spurred him to the Northwest League stolen base crown with Spokane this year despite playing just 92 games at the level. In addition to his 50 steals, he picked his spots nearly flawlessly; he was caught just four times with Spokane, three of which came in his final month. High-level attention to detail often yields high-level results.

“I’d say you know within the first half second whether you got it or not,” Veen said of his thought process after taking off. “You kind of read the jump.”

Veen, alongside (the No. 12 overall prospect) and (the No. 6 overall prospect), make up a formidable triumvirate at the top of the Salt River order. The group has gotten close during their short time in Scottsdale, with Walker in particular hailing Veen’s humor.

Entering the night 0-8 on the season, Salt River skipper Warren Schaeffer kept his bunch loose pre-game, and while Veen demurred talks of any planned sports drink-related celebrations, it was he, Lawlar and Walker who teamed up in the eighth to help deliver the Rafters their first victory on the fall circuit.

A Lawlar walk set the stage, as Arizona’s No. 3 prospect moved to second on a pickoff attempt that went awry. Veen then chopped an infield single that saw him scoot down the line at 29.8 ft/sec, a near elite sprint speed. With Walker at the dish, MLB's No. 23 overall prospect notched his third steal, setting the stage for Walker to seal the win with a 110 mph single into center that plated the pair.

“It’s definitely grown a lot more,” Veen said of his relationship with Lawlar and Walker. “I’m happy to be around these guys. We got a good little group. I think we’re all starting to click.”