3. Thomas Neal, OF, Double-A(emphasis mine)
DOB: August 1987 Bats: R Throws: R
Signed: 2005 36th round – Riverside Community College
MLB ETA: Late-2010 40-Man Roster: No Options: 3
Neal just keeps getting better. In fairness, his ‘09 numbers may have been helped by a good hitting environment. Even so, the 22-year-old outfielder hit .337/.431/.579 in 475 at-bats. His ISO rate jumped from .168 in low-A in ‘08 to .242 in high-A in ‘09. Neal has also shown solid patience at the plate over the past three seasons, topping out at 11.6 BB% this past year. He did a nice job of trimming his strikeout rate by 4% over ’08’s 24.1%. It will be hard for Neal to improve upon his .444 wOBA from ‘09 but he has the talent to be a star corner outfielder for the Giants. Defensively, his range is better suited for left field but he has the arm strength to play right field without embarrassing himself.
Not much to complain about there. Let's hope the kid has a good spring so Boch & Sabes will put a sticky note next to his name with "gamer" on it. All of us are also excited by Young Dan Runzler. So is Hulet--he has him pegged at #4:
4. Dan Runzler, LHP, Majors
DOB: March 1985 Bats: L Throws: L
Signed: 2007 9th round – UC Riverside
MLB ETA: Now 40-Man Roster: Yes Options: 3
Repertoire: 89-93 mph fastball, slider, curveball
A former ninth-round (under the radar) pick, Runzler has found a lot of success as of late thanks to his solid fastball – especially for a lefty – and his outstanding ground-ball rates. Playing at four minor league levels in ‘09, the southpaw produced an eye-popping 64.7% ground-ball rate, as well as an incredibly-low 5% line-drive rate. After all that traveling in the minors, Runzler was rewarded with a trip to the Majors where he posted a 1.04 ERA (but 4.14 FIP) in 8.2 big league innings. He struck out 11 batters but showed that he still has some work to do with his control by walking five batters. The former UC Riverside hurler has gone from little-known middle reliever to a potential MLB closer down the road.
With Brian Wilson getting more expensive every year it makes sense to look for a younger and cheaper alternative. Unless your guy is as good as Mariano Rivera there is no sense in being "loyal" to a relief pitcher. I like Wilson and thought he had a great season last year and was very valuable to the club. He has three arb years left and hits free agency in 2014.
The first Spring Training game is today at 12:05 in Peoria vs. the Mariners. The Franchise gets the start!