Here's another new arrival in the major leagues: Oakland Athletics right-hander Zach Neal. Promoted to the Show yesterday, he made his big league debut quickly and threw three innings of relief against the Boston Red Sox, giving up four hits and three runs while fanning a pair. Neal is little-known as a prospect so let's take a look at his background and possible future.
Neal was drafted by the Miami Marlins in the 17th round in 2010 from the University of Oklahoma. He was fairly generic staff filler but performed competently, reaching Double-A in 2012 and posting a 3.80 ERA in 69 innings with a 45/12 K/BB. He was nonetheless released but wasn't on the market for long and signed with the Athletics as a free agent. Neal spent the 2014, 2015, and early part of 2016 seasons in the high minors and performed decently enough in Triple-A, posting a combined 3.95 ERA in 287 innings over those campaigns with a 178/39 K/BB at that level. He's been quite sharp this spring with a 2.70 ERA in six starts for Nashville, 20/3 K/BB in 37 innings, 33 hits.
Neal is a 6-3, 220 pound right-hander, aged 27. With his background you may assume he doesn't throw hard and that is correct: his fastball is in the 88-92 range, averaging right at 90. He mixes in a full assortment of secondaries including a slider, curveball, and change-up, using a three-quarters delivery. He throws strikes and has steadily developed his command within the strike zone. He also has a persistent track record of reverse platoon splits, so it will be interesting to see if the Athletics account for that when deploying him.
Overall, Neal profiles as a long reliever or emergency starter, an 11th man on a modern staff, with command his best attribute.
Good look at his arm angle in this Milb.com clip.