Remember during the offseason when it seemed like the New York Yankees were adding a new outfielder everyday? Yeah, those weren’t the best of times. However, lost in the shuffle of all the players they signed was Thomas Neal, a player who the Yankees plucked from free agency just six days after he was released by the Cleveland Indians. With the outfield struggling offensively, perhaps it’s time to give Neal a look.
Currently, Neal is situated in Triple-A Scranton Wilkes/Barre, one of the team’s regular players. It is safe to say that he has been on fire since the onset of the season. He is currently batting .359 with two home runs and 22 RBIs in 37 games played. His batting average currently leads the International League, as does his OBP which is at .454.
I’m not sure if Neal is considered to be a “top prospect,” as he’s 25 years old and has spent a minimal amount of time at the big league level, but if not, he is definitely a top player down in AAA.
If the Yankees were to call up Neal, he would easily fit into the reserve outfielder role.
As YankeeSource points out to us via Twitter, Neal would be an improvement over current fourth outfielder, Brennan Boesch.
Neal is on fire, he’d be an upgrade over Boesch. RT @pinstripebible Would prefer Thomas Neal.
— Yankeesource (@YankeeSource) May 31, 2013
Adding Neal to the team would require the Yankees to clear space on the 40-man roster. Since Boesch still has options, the Yankees could easily switch the two.
The only problem is that Boesch has been pretty decent for the Yankees this season. In 25 games, he’s hitting .275 with three home runs, eight RBIs, and a few key hits in big situations. In the eyes of the Yankees, Boesch has done everything that they need him to do, and there would be no reason to send him back down.
To an extent, they’re not wrong. While Neal is lighting things up down in Triple-A, we can’t be so sure that those stats will transfer over to the major league level. There have been many times throughout baseball history where a player who was a star in the minor leagues never succeeded in the big leagues. But on the same note, there have been players who have succeeded at all levels – minor and major.
Luckily for the Yankees, Neal isn’t going anywhere for the foreseeable future, so they can keep him where they want without worry. But should Brennan Boesch begin to flounder, the Yankees will be able to call up Neal without hesitation, knowing that he might be ready to break-out in the Bronx.