In mid-January, while the Yankees were feigning sleep on on nearly every MLB free agent in captivity, they signed Thomas Neal off the slag pile. He had been dropped by Cleveland, which seemed to say everything we needed to know.
But lately, considering the absence of hope in our AAA outfield - most recently defined by the signing of Ben Francisco - Neal is looking like a guy who might start in left field on opening day. In a battle of no-names, his is by far the most boring. No "Melky," no "Zolio," no "Adonis," no nothing. (His twitter feed is TDaddy, so there must be something there.) Here's his minor league career.
Last year, Neal was traded by San Francisco - the best-run organization in baseball - to Cleveland (fill in your own description) for the ageless Orlando Cabrera. He came up for nine games and hit .217. Projected over an entire season, that would amount to an average of .217.
So here's the deal. The guy can play all three OF positions. He's 25 - younger than Melky Mesa (26) and not much older than Zolio Almonte (23). (Zolio, it should be noted, hit 21 HRs last year at AA. He also stole more bases than Neal.)
This spring, Zolio is hitting .211. That includes a HR on the first game. He has struck out four times.
Melky is hitting .222. He has 2 HR and 7 strikeouts. He is known to strike out wayyyy to often.
Neal is hitting .333. He has a HR. He has struck out three times. He's behind Juan Rivera and Ronnier Mustellier in average - but neither plays well on defense. Who knows? Thomas Neal could be the Russ Canzler of this 2013 Yankee team!