As the Major League Baseball lockout rolls along, the Colorado Rockies continue to add pitching depth at the minor league level in the hopes of finding someone who could make a difference at the Major League level soon.
What to know about the Colorado Rockies signing Zach Neal to a minor league deal
On Thursday, the Colorado Rockies signed right-hander Zach Neal to a minor league contract. The 33-year-old has seen action in 31 MLB games, but hasn’t appeared on a Major League mound since one appearance with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2018.
Since then, Neal has pitched for the Seibu Lions of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball organization.
Neal was drafted by the Florida Marlins in the 17th round of the 2010 MLB draft out of the University of Oklahoma. However, he never saw time in the Majors with the Marlins before being released by the franchise on March 26, 2013. Two days later, he was signed by the Oakland A’s and would finally make his MLB debut on May 11, 2016 against the Boston Red Sox.
During the 2016 season, Neal would see the most time of his career so far in the Majors, appearing in 24 games for the A’s. He served a variety of roles for the team, starting six games and finishing seven (including earning a pair of saves) that season while logging a 4.24 ERA, 4.35 FIP, and 1.114 WHIP.
Neal pitched in six games for Oakland (finishing four) in 2017 before electing free agency in the offseason. He would eventually sign with the Dodgers and pitch in one game during the 2018 campaign, allowing a solo home run in an inning of work on April 3 against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
As MLB.com reported in this article, Neal logged a 4.49 ERA in 272.1 innings over the course of three seasons (2019-21) with Seibu.
One thing to note with Neal is that he does record a higher percentage of ground balls than the average MLB pitcher. During his time with Oakland and Los Angeles, Neal’s ground ball rate was 50.7 percent (higher than the MLB average of 43.8 percent).