First, a little background information. Thomas Neal is widely considered to be one of the Giants’ best prospects. In 136 games at AA Richmond last year, he posted a .291/.359/.440 slash line. He also hit 12 home runs, even though his ballpark is not exactly homer-friendly. Recently, Neal has become active on Twitter, under the username @TdaddyNeal (you should follow him if you aren’t already doing so).
He was generous enough to participate in Ten Questions, and I hope you enjoy it. (Also, I recommend you watch Thomas Neal’s interview with Mychael Urban before reading this.)
1. Do you have any specific goals set out for 2011?
I think my main goal this season is to put together consistent at bats when hitting with runners in scoring position, and Have Fun.
2. Who has been the greatest influence on your playing career?
My mom for sure. She has always been there for me and supported me my whole life. She did whatever she could possibly do to help me chase my dream. She drove me around to every city in california for baseball games. She went to every game, She did it all. If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be where I’m at now.
3. How difficult was the transition from the California League to the Eastern League?
I think the biggest Transition for me was mentally. The guys were a lot smarter and they didn’t make the same mistakes that often. You really have to have a consistent game plan and understand what your trying to do at the plate. Early on I didn’t do a good job of that.
4. What are your thoughts on Brandon Belt and all of the hype surrounding him?
I think Belt is a great player. He can hit, plays good defensive, runs the bases well, He is a Good Baseball Player. The hype is well deserved, he dominated every level that he got a chance to play at.
5. So far, who’s the toughest pitcher you’ve faced in your career?
Stuff wise I would have to go with Craig Italiano he played for the A’s but he’s with SD now.
6. In your interview with Mychael Urban, you said that your biggest focus is your mental game — that you’re physically ready to play in the majors, but you want to adjust your mental game. This is a more general question, but can you comment on the importance of mentality in baseball?
I think thats the difference between a Big Leaguer and Minor leaguer. Physically the ability for everyone is there. Its tough to stay mentally focus every day for 162 games but Big Leaguers are able to get lock in mentally every single day. While minor leaguers are trying to learn how to do that every single day and it can be tough.
7. Just out of curiosity, do you pay any attention to prospect rankings and write-ups, or do you just try to ignore those and focus on playing?
Its something I don’t really pay attention to because I have no control over what people think or say. My main focus is to get better each day and be ready to step in with the Big League team when every my name is called upon.
8. Going into Spring Training, is it any different for you because you’re now with the defending world champions?
Not really, because Im not going to spring training to try and win a job. I just want to learn as much as I can, and just show that I can compete at the Big League level.
9. You’ve played with many of the young Giants prospects and players — like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. As a whole, how talented is this group of up-and-coming players in the Giants organization?
Very talented. I honestly can’t put my finger on it but I really believe there is something special with this group. There are all different type of personality and everyone gets along. But when we are between the lines its tough to explain, but the best way I could put it is everyone on the field is on the same page and we expect to win.
10. Do you plan on maintaining an active Twitter account throughout the baseball season?
Well, I’m thinking about carrying my phone in my pocket instead of my batting gloves. So I could tweet during pitching changes instead of running all the way to CF to talk to Ford Lol. probably a bad idea tho. But I will be tweeting during the season maybe not as much but I will be active.
I’d like to once again thank Thomas Neal for taking the time to participate in this. He’s an awesome guy, and I wish him the best of luck this season — and hope to see him in the majors some time soon!