The big news of the trade deadline for the Tribe of course is the Ubaldo Jimenez deal, where the Indians traded three of their top ten prospects for the next 2.5 years of Jimenez. I am not here to debate this deal, many will I am sure. In the explosion of this deal the Indians made a lesser deal, that should include little debate. They traded Orlando Cabrera to the Giants for Thomas Neal.
Indians fans had talked about OCAB to the Giants back when we played them, but the Giants reportedly had no interest. The lackluster play of Brandon Crawford and Miguel Tejada changed their minds rather quickly. The Indians received a bit of a fallen prospect in this deal in Thomas Neal.
Thomas Neal is a 23-year old, right-handed (that's correct--right-handed) outfielder. He has been well thought of in many circles, and was ranked the 96th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America in 2010. He was ranked the 6th best minor league player for the Giants by Keith Law and Fangraphs and 7th by both BA and MLB.
He had one big year where he showed off some power and hit 22 bombs, but has mostly just been a consistent hitter. He might not have big power, but has a good doubles stroke, twice hitting 40 or more, and plays a solid outfield with an above-average arm. Even in a down year he is still posting a 761 OPS in AAA (only 4 Indians regulars have OPS over 700). He only has two home runs this year, and his doubles are down a bit, and that's why he was attainable. Still he has produced at every level, and you have to wonder if this could be little like McAllister, where the Indians are buying low and betting on a rebound.
He seems to be improving in terms of pitch recognition, as his strike out totals have dropped as he has risen up the ranks, which is not often seen. Neal strikes me as kind of a good-at-everything, master-of-nothing type. He could be a player who surprises everyone, and I would not be shocked. After all of our trades and promotions, I believe he would be one of our top ten prospects right now. I tweeted Keith Law for a quick review on Neal:
"I think he's a really good 4th OF. Great return for Cabrera"
On a team that has played Austin Kearns and Travis Buck all season, doesn't a right-handed, really-good 4th outfielder sound like a great addition? Plus' we have had a lot of luck trading washed up vets to San Francisco over the years and getting players. I am excited for Neal. The Indians traded OCAB and got a guy who is a potential legit major league option. Plus, for twitter fans, rumor has it that he is a highly entertaining edition to the Tribe's ranks in the social circles.Follow Tony and the Indians Prospect Insider on Twitter @TonyIPI. Also, his latest book the 2011 Cleveland Indians Top 100 Prospects & More is available for purchase for $20.95 to customers in the US (shipping and handling extra).
Welcome Thomas Neal, another potential steal for a half-season of a bench-worthy veteran.