The Dodgers have made another move, this time on the minor league side. Ken Rosenthal is reporting that The Dodgers have inked right hander Zach Neal to a minor league contract. Neal a 29-year old from Colombia, South Carolina spent the majority of the 2017 season pitching for the Nashville Sounds of the Pacific Coast League. Neal also appeared in six games at the major league level with the Oakland Athletics.
Neal pitched in 24 games for the A’s in 2016 as well. Six of those games were as a starter. He posted a 4.24 ERA and struck out only 27 in 70 innings pitched. Neal’s miniscule strikeout rate of 3.5 per nine compliments his ground ball rate of 55.3%. He walked only 6 in 2016 and just one batter in 2017. However he did allow 9.3 hits per nine in his 2016 campaign and 11.7 hits per nine during his 2017 season. Neal posted a 7.98 ERA over 14.2 innings pitched last year.
RHP Zach Neal agrees to minor-league deal with #Dodgers, per source. Sinkerballer spent parts of past two seasons with #Athletics; LAD GM Farhan Zaidi knew him from OAK. Neal in majors: 84.1 IP, 37Ks, 7 BB, 4.89 ERA. Minors: 923 IP, 3.84 ERA.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) January 6, 2018
In 21 appearances and 16 starts at Nashville the sinkerballer posted a 4.84 ERA with a 4-8 record. He struck out just 43 and walked 10 in 99 frames. He also allowed 115 hits with 9 home runs. Neal was a starting pitcher for Nashville in 2016. That year he posted a 7-2 record with a 3.21 ERA in 11 starts.
Overall Neal has a 4.89 ERA and a 4.71 FIP in 84.2 big league frames. He’s posted a 3.9 K/9 rate to go along with a very low 0.7 BB.9 rate over 30 MLB appearances. It looks like the Dodgers are trying to stockpile ground ball pitchers in order to counter all of the home runs that are flying out of the ball parks these days. If Neal cracks the major league roster he should earn the league minimum.