Orlando Cabrera was dealt to the San Francisco Giants just prior to yesterday’s trade deadline in return for AAA OF Thomas Neal. The 6’2, 225lb Neal was having a solid if unspectacular season for San Francisco’s AAA affiliate in Fresno. In 60 games this year, Neal is hitting .295/.351/.409 with 2 HR, 25 RBI and 7 SB in 13 attempts. The 23-year old’s best year so far as a professional came in 2009, when he hit .337/.413/.579 (1.010 OPS) with 22 HR and 90 RBI in the high A California League. He was ranked as the #96 prospect in baseball by Baseball America prior to the 2010 season, but did not appear on the 2011 list. Neal was drafted in the 36th round in 2005 out of Poway High School in California, and has been steadily climbing the ladder in the Giants organization since then.
Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus ranked Neal as the Giants #6 overall prospect this past offseason, giving him “3 star” status. For comparison’s sake, Goldstein gave Indians OF LeVon Washington a “3 star” rating prior to this season. Baseball America had him ranked 7th on their preseason Giants list. He’s seen as a solid but unspectacular guy who should be able to be an everyday OF in the big leagues as soon as next year. He runs well for his size, but isn’t a big stolen base threat. He has a quick bat, but doesn’t have prodigious power. He has a strong arm, and can play either RF or LF defensively but doesn’t have the wheels for CF. He’s been praised by coaches and teammates as a guy who plays hard, gives 100% effort and always plays the game the right way. He’s a real gri…ahh, nevermind. In short, the Indians managed to get a guy who should at worst be their 4th OF next year in return for Orlando Cabrera. It’s an under-the-radar deal with all of the hubbub surrounding Ubaldo Jimenez, but this is another example of the Indians flipping something that was pretty much useless the rest of this year in return for a piece that could be cheap and productive for years to come.
Neal will report to AAA Columbus and step right in to the lineup for the stretch run and the AAA playoffs (Columbus is 9.5 games up in the International League West Division). The OC will step right into a void in the Giants lineup and play a below-average SS and be below-average at the plate, but probably not as below-average as they’ve been getting from the SS position so far this year. Those that follow me on Twitter (@gotribe31) and here at TCF are well aware of my dislike for the job that Cabrera did for the Indians this year, but it’s not his fault that his name was continually penciled in on the lineup card at the #5 position in the order. So I wish him the best, and continue to be impressed that Antonetti was able to acquire a solid prospect in return for two months of production from an aging veteran who didn’t have much to offer this Indians team down the stretch.
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