Sunday, May 22, 2016

Meet a Prospect: Neal Cotts


The New York Yankees boasted their pitching depth and bullpen this offseason as a reason for why the team ultimately added nothing to the starting rotation. The rotation was littered with question marks heading into the season but the addition of Aroldis Chapman left the Yankees feeling comfortable about their chances this season. The team still had the Scranton Shuttle to keep their three-headed monster fresh but that depth has taken a big hit already this season. Nick Rumbelow is gone, Bryan Mitchell is gone, Phil Coke is gone, Branden Pinder is gone and a whole slew of others I'm likely forgetting leaving New York scrambling. This scrambling landed them a left-handed reliever this week and a LOOGY for manager Joe Girardi to potentially use in Neal Cotts. Let's meet the veteran. This is Meet a Prospect: The Neal Cotts Edition.

Neal James Cotts was born on March 25, 1980 and began his amateur career with the Illinois State University baseball team. While at the school Cotts earned first-team All-Missouri Valley Conference honors and was named to the ABCA All-Midwest Region team. These milestones caught the attention of the Oakland Athletics eyes who drafted him 69th overall in the 2nd round of the 2001 MLB First year players draft. Cotts was only the second player to ever be drafted out of Illinois State and left with the fifth highest strikeout total in the school's history.

Cotts spent a year with the Athletics before the team traded him to the Chicago White Sox in a six-player deal that included both Keith Foulke and Billy Koch. Cotts was not long for the minor league's though as he made his MLB debut in 2003 against the Anaheim Angels pitching 2.1 innings in a no-decision. Cotts, then a starter, was converted to the bullpen by then manager Ozzie Guillen before the 2004 season and that is where you can find the lefty today. As a member of the White Sox bullpen Cotts pitched in the 2005 World Series run for Chicago winning his first World Series ring of his career.

Cotts quickly had to pack his bags and his newly minted World Series ring before 2006 though as the White Sox sent him across town to the Chicago Cubs in a deal that brought back David Aardsma and minor league pitcher Carlos Vasquez. Cotts tenure with the Cubs was a rocky one that included being optioned to Triple-A in favor of Sean Marshall in 2007 where he would also begin his 2008 season. Cotts was back with the big league club in 2009 before feeling some discomfort in his pitching elbow and eventually going down with Tommy John surgery. Cotts was non-tendered before the 2010 season and was a free agent for the first time in his career.

Cotts latched on with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2010 after signing a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training and made the team out of spring camp. Cotts felt like he was back on the fast track until June of that season when he fell victim to a hip surgery that would end his season and his tenure with Pittsburgh. Cotts was released by the Pirates after the 2010 season and almost immediately signed a minor league deal with the New York Yankees with a similar invite to spring training for 2011. Cotts could not pass his physical though and was released from his contract leaving him without a single pitch thrown for the second consecutive season.

In 2012 Cotts latched on with the Texas Rangers and finally made his return to the mound on June 11, it just wasn't a major league mound and was instead a mound in Triple-A. Cotts remained with the organization for the 2013 season but failed to make the team out of spring training. Instead Cotts went back down to Triple-A Round Rock before getting the call back to the Major Leagues on May 21. Cotts remained with the Rangers until 2015 when he signed a one-year deal with the Milwaukee Brewers. Not surprisingly his tenure in Milwaukee was not for long though as the team traded him to the Minnesota Twins in August of 2015 for a player to be named later.

Cotts finished the 2015 season with Minnesota before signing a minor league deal with the Houston Astros to begin 2016. Cotts was released in March and quickly signed another minor league deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. Cotts deal included an opt-out clause which he exercised this week becoming a free agent once again. The Yankees jumped on the opportunity to bring Cotts back to the Bronx by signing him to another minor league deal this week welcoming his back to the organization and the family. Welcome Neal, I'm sure we'll be seeing you soon enough.

3 comments:

  1. A total journey man,good luck hope you stick around this time.

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  2. A total journey man,good luck hope you stick around this time.

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    Replies
    1. He has had his hardships but he seems finally back and healthy. Maybe he sticks around and helps out. No such thing as too much good pitching.

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