Padres Prospect Report: Blaine Neal

Blaine Neal was recently added by the San Diego Padres in a deal that sent Ben Howard to the Florida Marlins. Since not much is known about Neal, Mark Doring, an expert that covers the Marlins, has supplied MadFriars.com with the scouting report.

Blaine Neal
Vital Stats:
Position: Relief Pitcher
DOB: April 6, 1978
Birth Place: Maurelton, New Jersey Height: 6'5 Weight: 245 lbs.
Bats: Left
Throws: Right
Drafted: Drafted by the Marlins in the 4th Round of the 1996 amateur draft.

Overview:
The Marlins drafted Neal out of high school as a 1B in 1996. The Marlins quickly converted Neal to a pitcher as they were intrigued with his extremely strong arm. As he progressed through the system, the Marlins felt that he had the stuff, demeanor, and mound presence to eventually become their closer. Scouts not only agreed on the Marlins front office assumption but also considered him highly enough to call him one of the Marlins top 10 prospects heading into the 2001 season.

He made his first appearance with the Marlins came during that same 2001 season where he had a hard time adjusting and didn't perform well in 4 innings of work. His follow up effort in 2002 was a lot more encouraging as Neal went 3-0 with 33 Ks and a 2.73 ERA in 33 innings of work.

Heading into 2003, Neal was expected to compete for the closer's job. He pitched well enough in spring training to earn a roster spot but once the season started Neal was dismal giving up 19 hits in only 9 2/3 innings of work during the month of April. The Marlins were then hesitant to use him in any meaningful situations as Neal appeared to lose his confidence. He was subsequently demoted to Triple A Albuquerque where his 2.33 ERA was made even more impressive by the fact that the team's ERA for the season was 5.65.

Blaine went into the 2004 as a non-roster invitee to spring training with his confidence restored where he made 8 game appearances pitching 9.1 innings giving up 5 earned runs on 14 hits for a 4.82 ERA. His record for the spring was 1-0 and he struck out 6.

Repertoire:
Neal's best pitch is his fast ball which he can top out around 95-96 but is most consistently clocked in the 92-94 range. The problem that Neal has with his fastball is that it lacks movement and thus becomes easily hittable for major league hitters who aren't intimidated or overwhelmed with pure heat. Neal also throws a slider which is considered an average offering at best.

Style:
Blaine Neal has the correct approach for a closer; here is my best stuff, it's up to you to hit it. This is to say that he is aggressive with hitters and does not try to dance around the plate. The two basic problems with this is 1. he can become predictive because he doesn't have a strong enough second pitch and 2. he sometimes falls victim to over-throwing and loses his mechanics.

Projection:
Blaine will be turning 26 early this season and while he is no longer considered a "top prospect" he still has the demeanor and the fastball to become an effective closer if he receives the right coaching and tutorage from the veterans on the staff.

Year

Team

G

GS

IP

W

L

SV

H

BB

SO

ERA

2003

Albuquerque

40

0

46.1

3

2

21

55

16

32

2.33

2003

Florida

18

0

21.0

0

0

0

38

9

10

8.14



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