Thursday afternoon the Cleveland Indians completed their four year, $56 Million free agent contract with Nick Swisher, after the outfielder passed his physical without any concerns. Thomas Neal has been designated for assignment in order to make room for Swisher on the team’s 40-man roster.
Neal, 25, made his MLB Debut this past season for the Indians, appearing in 9 games in September in which he hit .217/.250/.261. He spent the bulk of the 2012 season with the team’s Double-A affiliate in Akron, spending most of his time in the outfield corners. Over 470 plate appearances in 117 games he’d bat .314/.400/.467 with 12 HR, 57 RBI, and 11 stolen bases.
A former 36th Round pick in the 2005 Draft, Neal progressed pretty steadily through the minor league system of the San Francisco Giants before being traded to Cleveland during the 2011 season for shortstop Orlando Cabrera. Neal had even once been considered among the game’s top prospects, coming in at #96 on Baseball America’s Top 100 list prior to the 2010 season. His stock has seemingly taken a hit since, with a demotion back to Double-A this past season and now being removed from the team’s 40-man roster, but it seems likely that Neal will end up back on his feet somewhere with an opportunity to play.