Not a Rookie: Dana Eveland
Dana Eveland was drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 2002, a draft-and-follow guy in the 16th round. He went to Junior College of the Canyons and signed in 2003, then posted a 2.08 ERA with 14 saves and a 41/8 K/BB ratio in 26 innings for Helena in the Pioneer League. He impressed folks with a 90-92 fastball, a slider, and a changeup, but also drew concern from scouts about his weight and build. I gave him a Grade C+ in the 2004 book.
Eveland became a starter in 2004, going 9-6, 2.84 with a 119/24 K/BB in 117 innings for Beloit in the Midwest League, then a 2.28 ERA with a 14/4 K/BB in a late-season trial in Double-A. The weight was still a concern, but he was picking up a bit more velocity and command was obviously a strength. I gave him a Grade B
2005 saw him go 10-4, 2.72 in 18 starts for Double-A Huntsville, with a 98/38 K/BB in 109 innings. The Brewers put him in the major league bullpen in the second half, and he posted a 5.97 ERA with a 23/18 K/BB in 32 innings. I remember seeing him pitch, and he looked pretty tentative and nervous in his major league time, pitching "tight." Scouts also continued to worry about his conditioning. I still rated him at Grade B.
Eveland spent most of 2006 in Triple-A, posting a 2.74 ERA and a 110/41 K/BB in 105 innings. He was hit hard in major league action again, with an 8.13 ERA in 28 innings with the Brewers, with a 32/16 K/BB. . .too many walks, but a good strikeout rate. Traded to the Diamondbacks, he missed most of 2007 with a torn tendon on his pitching hand, and was ineffective again in major league action. Traded to Oakland, he's getting a fresh start with a new organization and is pitching effectively thus far.
I've long suspected that Eveland just needed time to settle into a major league role and get comfortable emotionally, get over the jitters. Certainly his minor league numbers were quite strong all the way up the line, and he's not a soft-tosser: he has legit stuff. If he can show the same kind of command in the majors he showed in the minors, there is every reason to expect he would succeed. He's still just 24 years old as well.
Assuming good health, I think Eveland can be a very good number three starter going forward. Of course we can't assume permanent good health. And even this year, his 18/11 K/BB isn't great. I'd like to see the walks come down. Obviously we need a larger sample size before fully concluding that he's turned the corner. But given his minor league record and his above-average stuff for a lefty, I think there is good reason to be optimistic about Eveland.