The Cincinnati Reds have acquired right handed pitcher Zach Neal and first baseman Ibandel Isabel from the Los Angeles Dodgers in a trade for right handed reliever Ariel Hernandez. The Reds had designated Hernandez for assignment on Friday to create room on the roster for Dylan Floro.
Zach Neal was drafted by the Florida Marlins, yes, the Florida Marlins, back in 2010 out of the University of Oklahoma. The now 29-year-old has pitched in the Major Leagues in each of the last three seasons. Only in 2016 was it more than just a short call up, though. He’s thrown just 15.2 innings between the 2017 and 2018 Major League seasons.
For his Major League career, Zach Neal has posted a 4.94 ERA in 85.2 innings with seven walks and 37 strikeouts. In the Minor Leagues, he’s been a bit better than that. He’s split time in the last few seasons between the bullpen and rotation, but a large part of his career has been as a starter. In 933.1 innings in the minors he has a 3.84 ERA with 178 walks and 600 strikeouts.
Zach Neal doesn’t walk guys. He’s also not a guy who is going to miss bats. For his career he’s slightly leaned on the side of being a groundball pitcher, but not overly so. He will be assigned to the Triple-A Louisville Bats.
Ibandel Isabel could be an actual prospect of sorts. He’s not going to jump into the Top 25 of the Reds system at this point, but he’s also a 22-year-old with some pop in his bat. Last season he hit 28 home runs for Rancho Cucamonga. There are a few caveats with that, though: First is that it came in the hitters heaven that is the California League where it’s generally more concerning when a guy doesn’t hit for power than anything it says about a guy who does hit for power in the league. The second is a big one. Isabel struck out 172 times in 492 plate appearances. That’s a 35% strikeout rate.
The Dodgers have been very aggressive in promoting Ibandel Isabel at times in his career. He jumped from a month in the Midwest League to the California League, and that may have been a little bit too aggressive. The Reds, at least initially, are going to send him to Daytona. How he is worked into the lineup will be interesting as the Reds have Bruce Yari at first base for the Tortugas right now. Perhaps they will share some of the designated hitter duties. We’ll have to wait and see.