The Oakland A's struggles have created opportunities for several members of their farm system this season. Andrew Triggs, Sean Manaea and J.B. Wendelken already have made their major-league debuts. Now Zach Neal will get his turn. The longtime minor league veteran had his contract purchased by the A's on Wednesday to fill a long relief role for the A's with Boston. Neal has 799.2 minor league innings over a six-year minor league career.
Neal came to the A's as a minor league free agent after being released by the Marlins at the tail-end of the 2014 spring training. Since then, Neal has been one of the most reliable starters in the A's system. A workhorse, Neal doesn't throw hard, but he pounds the strike-zone and works quickly. He was one of the leaders in the A's system in pitchers per inning last season. Neal is off to a strong start with Triple-A Nashville this season. In six starts, he has a 2.70 ERA in 36.2 innings. He has walked only three and he has a 1.54 GO/AO.
Going into the regular season, Neal was expected to be in the Sounds' bullpen, where the A's were curious to see how his stuff would play up in shorter appearances. However, when Eric Surkamp joined the A's rotation during the first week of the season, Neal moved into the Sounds' rotation, where he has stayed all season.
A's minor league field coordinator Aaron Nieckula praised the work Neal did during spring training:
"He had a very solid spring. Zach Neal was being Zach Neal, pounding the strike-zone with a heavy 89-92 sinker. Worked with a good slider and a good change-up. He knows how to pitch," Nieckula said last month. To learn more about Neal, click here.
In addition to Neal, Surkamp is re-joining the A's roster after a short stint in Nashville. Surkamp will make the start against Boston today, looking to put a stop to a four-game losing streak. He struck-out 16 in 12 innings over two starts for the Sounds, allowing three runs. He had a 5.59 ERA in four starts for the A's earlier this season.
To make room for Neal and Surkamp on the 25-man roster, the A's sent lefty Daniel Coulombe back to Nashville and placed infielder Jed Lowrie (shin) on the disabled list. Eric Sogard (knee) was moved from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list.