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Thomas Joseph Neal

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Outfielder Thomas Neal reached the majors with the Cleveland Indians in 2012.

Neal was selected by the San Francisco Giants as a draft-and-follow pick in the 36th round of the 2005 amateur draft. After a year of junior college, he was signed by scout Lee Carballo for $220,000 and began his pro career in 2006 with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. He hit only .250/.289/.375 his first season and had 7 walks to 44 strikeouts. He dislocated his throwing shoulder in 2007 and surgery caused him to miss almost all of that season (appearing in only 10 games for the AZL Giants). With the Augusta Greenjackets in 2008, he began the year with a 14-game hitting streak and ended the campaign with a .276/.359/.444 batting line, 15 home runs, and 81 RBI. He improved his walk total to 48. While rehabbing from injury, he played mostly DH and some first base, with very little outfield action (2 games).

Neal had a monster year with the San Jose Giants in 2009, hitting .337/.431/.579 with 41 doubles, 22 homers, 102 runs, 90 RBI, 15 assists and 3 errors. He was among the California League leaders in runs (3rd after Jon Gaston and Tyson Gillies), hits (160, 5th between Charlie Blackmon and Brad Chalk), doubles (5th, between Scott Van Slyke and Roger Kieschnick), home runs (tied for 8th with Ian Gac and Koby Clemens), RBI (9th, between Mauro Gomez and James McOwen), walks (tied for 6th, 65), times hit by pitch (5th, 16), average (5th, between McOwen and Yusuf Carter), slugging (4th after Clemens, Gaston and Alex Liddi), OBP (1st by .001 over Gillies) and OPS (2nd after Clemens). He led Giants farmhands in runs, hits and doubles and tied Kieschnick for the lead in total bases. Baseball America named him as the best hitting prospect in the league, as having the best outfield arm and as the #9 overall prospect (between Wynn Pelzer and James Darnell) in the league as well as #96 in all of baseball. He joined Kieschnick and Gaston as the Cal League All-Star outfielders.

The next season, with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, he hit .291/.359/.440 with 40 doubles, 12 home runs and 69 RBI. He was third in the Eastern League in doubles (behind Steve Singleton and Ryan Adams) and 5th in hits (153, between Chris Marrero and Matt Hague). He led EL outfielders with 9 assists. Only Brandon Belt had more doubles by a Giants minor leaguer. Baseball America listed him as the #7 Giants prospect.

He spent the entire 2011 campaign at the AAA level and was traded by the Giants to the Indians in midseason for shortstop Orlando Cabrera. After playing most of 2012 with the Akron Aeros, he was called up by the Indians in September. He made his big league debut on September 2nd, starting in rightfield against the Texas Rangers and going 1-for-4 with a double and a run batted in.

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