The Rockies have signed right-hander Zach Neal to a minor league contract, according to an announcement from his representatives at MSM (Twitter link). Colorado has also agreed to a minors deal with southpaw Dillon Overton, according to the team’s transactions log at MLB.com.
Coincidentally, both pitchers have logged their most significant MLB experience to date with the 2016 A’s. Neal tossed 70 innings over 24 appearances (including six starts) that year, working to a 4.24 ERA. That decent run prevention came with a complete dearth of strikeouts, though, as Neal fanned just 9.6% of batters faced. His lack of swing-and-miss caught up to him the following season, and the University of Oklahoma product worked 15 2/3 MLB frames between the A’s and Dodgers over the next two seasons.
Neal made the jump to Japan over the 2018-19 offseason, signing with the Seibu Lions of Nippon Professional Baseball. He’s spent the past three seasons there, posting a cumulative 4.49 ERA in 272 1/3 innings. Neal’s strikeout rate in Japan was still low (12.4%), but he only walked 5.6% of opponents. Neal also demonstrated elite control in his big league time (2% walk rate) and owns a 4.25 ERA over parts of five seasons at Triple-A.
Overton has 47 2/3 big league innings under his belt, appearing with the A’s, Mariners and Padres from 2016-17. He’s been tagged for a 9.13 ERA over that stretch, but he owns a 4.58 mark in four Triple-A campaigns. Also an OU graduate, Overton has a similar profile to that of Neal. He’s only punched out 12.1% of big league opponents but has a minuscule 4.8% career walk rate. The southpaw spent the 2021 campaign with the Rakuten Monkeys of Taiwan’s Chinese Professional Baseball League, pitching to a 3.75 ERA in 57 2/3 innings there.