It was announced on Wednesday that the St. Louis Cardinals are planning to call up power-hitting outfielder Tyler O’Neill ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley field. The #4 prospect in the Cardinals organization has gotten off to an extremely hot start for the Memphis Redbirds in Triple-A, leading the Pacific Coast League with six bombs in just 12 games. O’Neill was limited to just 12 at-bats in Grapefruit League action after a minor hamstring injury prevented him from making the big league team out of spring training.
What can we expect from O’Neill?
What to Expect from Tyler O’Neill
A third-round pick by the Seattle Mariners back in 2013 out of Vancouver, Canada, the Cards acquired the 22-year-old from Seattle in a trade last year that sent reliever Marco Gonzales to the M’s. O’Neill has made a name for himself with the bat. He led the California League in 2015 with 32 homers for the Bakersfield Blaze, while also driving in 87 runs. Last season, between Triple-A Tacoma and Memphis, O’Neill hit 31 long balls. He’s cut down his strikeout numbers immensely in the last couple years, but it could still be improved. As a power guy, however, he will see a fair share of strikeouts.
Despite his ability to hit the long ball, O’Neill actually brings a lot of versatility to the Cardinals outfield. He can play all three outfield positions, and although he isn’t noticed for his defense, he has very good range and a strong throwing arm. O’Neill has the chance to be a 30+ home run guy at the big league level. He has some of the most impressive raw power in baseball. The Cardinals could use a guy who can go yard on a consistent basis, something they have been lacking of late.
O’Neill also has good speed on the basepaths and in the outfield. He swiped a career-high 16 bags back in 2015. Although stealing bases isn’t a huge part of his game, O’Neill definitely has the ability to do so.
The 210 lb outfielder has lightning-quick bat speed, thanks to an extremely muscular build, and has shown the quickness to turn around any fastball. It will be interesting to see how his power plays out against big league pitching.
How Does He Fit in St. Louis?
With Tommy Pham out with a groin injury, it’s expected that O’Neill will most likely take his place. His versatility to be able to play any outfield position will definitely help O’Neill get lots of playing time for the big league club. If Pham does come back soon, O’Neill will provide the Cards with a quality bat and defender off the bench. But given his abilities, don’t expect to see O’Neill on the bench much, especially if he continues his hot start to the season at the major league level.
Whether O’Neill stays up with the Cardinals for all of 2018 or goes back and forth between triple-A and the bigs, the 22-year definitely has a very bright future and has the chance to be one of the most exciting young power hitters in the game.