- Full name Thomas Neal
- Born 08/17/1987 in Inglewood, CA
- Profile Ht.: 6'2" / Wt.: 220 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Riverside City College
- Debut 09/02/2012
- Drafted in the 36th round (1,092nd overall) by the San Francisco Giants in 2005.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Signing with the Giants through the now defunct draft-and-follow process, Neal earned a $220,000 bonus in 2006 after getting selected in the 36th round the year before. He had his breakout year in 2009, when he led the high Class A California League with a .431 on-base percentage, but his stock had dropped by the time San Francisco traded him to Cleveland for Orlando Cabrera in July 2011. After spending most of 2011 in Triple-A, Neal went back down to Double-A last year, had a nice season and made his major league debut as a September callup. He has a quick bat and takes an aggressive swing, though he does show enough selectivity not to chase too many pitches out of the strike zone. He can handle balls in on his hands and his plate coverage is solid, though his average power isn't prototypical for a corner outfielder. Neal is athletic for a man his size, but with his below-average speed and arm strength, he's limited to left field. Most scouts don't think he has enough offensive potential to hold down an everyday job, but a big year in Triple-A in 2013 could help him get back to the big leagues.
A $220,000 draft-and-follow signee out of Riverside (Calif.) CC, Neal dislocated his throwing shoulder in 2007 and missed nearly 12 months. He broke out in 2009, hitting .337/.431/.579 and leading the California League in on-base percentage, then turned in a solid season in Double-A last year to earn a spot on the 40-man roster. As a youth, he played on a San Diego-area travel team that included Stephen Strasburg, Mike Leake and Giants manager Bruce Bochy's son Brett. Neal is more athletic than most 6-foot-2, 225- pounders. His combination of power, arm strength and surprising ability to cover ground in either outfield corner draws comparisons to Jermaine Dye. But Neal needed time to figure out Double-A pitchers, who worked him with sinkers down and in, followed by sliders away. He has the bat speed to handle quality fastballs but gets a little overeager in RBI situations. While a below-average runner, he's opportunistic on the bases and coaches love his hustle. By the end of the season, Neal learned to take a consistent plan into every at-bat, something he can build on in Triple-A in 2011. There's a good chance he'll be introduced to the big leagues at some point this year, with the chance to establish himself as an everyday player in 2012.
Neal was a draft-and-follow who signed for $220,000 after a huge season at Riverside (Calif.) CC in 2006. His development stalled when he dislocated his throwing shoulder, and reconstructive surgery forced him to miss nearly all of 2007. He split time between DH and first base in 2008 and successfully returned to the outfield last season, when he led the high Class A California League with a .431 on-base percentage. Neal became a more complete hitter in 2009. He seldom strays from his plan at the plate and takes aggressive swings on mistakes. He has the bat speed to turn on quality fastballs and shows extra-base power from pole to pole. His arm strength has returned and he racked up 15 assists from left field last season. Neal is a below-average runner and his outfield range isn't the greatest. While he has good plate coverage, he's still learning to spoil two-strike pitches as opposed to putting them in play. As he moves up, more advanced pitchers will look to disrupt his timing with better breaking balls. A strong Arizona Fall League reinforced the notion that Neal could hit in the middle of the Giants' lineup. Time remains on his side even though he has missed a lot of baseball, as he's still just 22. Because his arm is playable in right field, he and Roger Kieschnick could switch corners at the Giants' new Double-A Richmond outpost in 2010.
The Giants signed Neal for a $220,000 bonus as a draft-and-follow in May 2006 after he boosted his stock with a huge season at Riverside (Calif.) CC. His development stalled when he dislocated his shoulder, and reconstructive surgery forced him to miss nearly all of the 2007 season. To make sure he'd get a full season of at-bats in 2008, the Giants had him share first base and DH duties with Angel Villalona at Augusta. Neal responded with a solid year, his 103 strikeouts in 428 at-bats notwithstanding. Despite playing his home games in a cavernous park, Neal hit 15 homers, many of them to center or the opposite field. Only Villalona's power grades out higher among Giants prospects. Neal is still young and his power numbers could explode once he learns to pull the ball with consistency. A below-average runner with a stocky build, he returned to the corner outfield spots in instructional league. His shoulder responded well, though he'll never have more than an average arm. He'll open 2009 as San Jose's left fielder.
The Giants offered Neal $7,000 to sign out of high school in Southern California in 2005, but he went to nearby Riverside Community College instead and boosted his stock with a huge season (.637 slugging and .504 on-base percentage). San Francisco signed him as a draft-and-follow for $220,000. Neal has what the Giants describe as light-tower power and a righthanded swing that has excellent balance. He battled against older competition in his pro debut with Salem-Keizer and didn't get to show his true ability because he dislocated his shoulder on a dive and struggled the rest of the season. Neal is far from a dead-pull hitter. He has power to right-center and has a knack for squaring up strikes, but tends to get overanxious at the plate. He played third base in high school but profiles as a corner outfielder. His range and speed are below average, but he has an above-average arm, which means he'll probably continue to start in right field as he moves through the system. Expect Neal to graduate to low Class A in 2007, along with a host of interesting position players.
Minor League Top Prospects
Neal was the most pleasant and unexpected surprise of the Cal League's 2009 season. After a dislocated shoulder and reconstructive surgery to repair threatened to derail his career before it got going, but he kick-started it last year and truly blossomed in 2009. He led the California League in on-base percentage (.431) and ranked fourth in slugging (.579). "He's had a tremendous year, a breakout year," San Jose manager Andy Skeels said. "He has lost weight and committed to getting better. His instincts as a hitter are off the charts. He has an advanced idea of the strike zone, and he uses the opposite field extremely well." Neal's lone plus tool is his bat. He has average power and below-average speed. Both his defense in left field and his arm are decent.
Top 100 Rankings
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Batting Prospect in the California League in 2009
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the California League in 2009