The Cubs added more outfield depth claiming 25-year-old outfielder Thomas Neal off waivers from the New York Yankees. The Cubs transferred Rafael Dolis to the 60-day DL to make room for Neal on the 40-man roster. New York designated Neal for assignment after the Yankees activated Curtis Granderson from the disabled list on Aug. 2.
Reports are Neal (6'2", 220 lbs) will join the Cubs for the three-game series in Philadelphia on Tuesday and a corresponding 25-man roster will be made tomorrow.
Neal was a 36th round pick of the Giants in 2005 out of Riverside Junior College in California and spent his first pro season in the Northwest League. Shoulder surgery for a torn labrum that he suffered in the championship series of the NWL pretty much shelved his 2007 season and spent the year rehabbing in Arizona finally playing in 10 games in the AZL.
He finally got back on track spending 2008 in Augusta in the South Atlantic League hitting .276/.359/.444 with 15 HR and 81 RBI and then jumped on the Giants' top prospect list after hitting .337/.431/.579 with San Jose in the California League with 22 HR and 90 RBI in 2009.
He continued to perform in AA playing 136 games at Richmond finishing 2010 at .291/.359/.440 with 12 HR and 69 RBI, earning all-star honors. He also stole a career-high 11 bases. He was promoted to AAA for 2011 hitting .295 with a OPS of .761 in 60 games before he was traded to the Cleveland at the deadline for Orlando Cabrera and put on the Indians 40-man roster. He only played in 10 games for the Indians AAA affiliate before going on the DL for the rest of the season.
Last season, the Indians removed Neal for the 40-man and assigned him back to AA, his second year in the Eastern League. Neal responded by hitting .314/400/.467 and in September, got a called up, making his MLB debut on Sept. 2 going 1-4 with a RBI against the Rangers. He played in nine games and went 5-23.
The Yankees signed the seven-year minor league veteran to a free-agent contract in January and once again he was back on a MLB 40-man roster. At AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre the right-hander was hitting .339 with 14 RBI in the first 18 games but another injury, this time a hamstring, sidelined him three weeks. Neal's return couldn't have been better hitting .379/.512/.530 in May, and on June 14 joined the Yankees on a west cost road trip. He played two games in Anaheim and then both games of a doubleheader against the Dodgers going 2-11 in four games. After returning to AAA, he hit .299/.324/.351 in 25 games before his release.