Saturday, January 08, 2011

The future is now ... Thomas Neal

When was the last time the SF Giants produced a homegrown outfielder that was a flat out slugger? Hmmmm, maybe Jack Clark? It's been a long time. Well, let me introduce you to Thomas Neal. Thomas was drafted by the Giants in the 2005 amateur draft in the 36th round (1,092 overall) from Riverside Community College. The Giants originally offered Thomas $7K to sign out of high school in 2005, but he opted to attend Riverside Community College and boosted his stock in the process (.637 sluggling, .502 OBP). The Giants ended up signing him as a draft-and-follow for $220K.

Okay, I know what you're thinking ... 1,092 overall pick? Yeah, usually someone drafted in the 36th round doesn't become a top prospect for any club, but Thomas is not your regular 1,092 pick. He's quickly moved up the ranks of the minors, and if he continues to show improvement in 2011, there should be no reason why he couldn't compete for a roster spot with the big club in 2012.

In just five years, Thomas has amassed 54 home runs, 264 RBI, and .296 batting average. Last year in AA Richmond, he belted 12 home runs, 69 RBI, and .291 average while appearing in 136 games with 525 at-bats. It was some what of a dip from his 2009 season from high class A San Jose, but that's to be expected as the competition in AA jumps up exponentially.

The big question is will Thomas continue making improvements in 2011. Most likely, he'll start the season in AAA Fresno, and in addition to playing the outfield expect for him to get some time at first base as well. As we all know, the Giants have a logjam in the outfield, so maybe that's why he was playing first base in the 2009 Arizona Fall League.

Either way, remember the name Thomas Neal, you might hear Renel belting out his name at AT&T Park sooner versus later.

2009 Hi A Player of the Year
2009 Hi A All-Star OF
2009 California League All-Star OF
2009 Baseball America 2nd team Minor League All-Star OF

Thomas Neal - Arizona Fall League 2009

Thomas Neal - San Jose Giants 2009

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