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The emergence of Tyler O'Neill

Updated: Jun 6, 2021

Tyler O'Neill via Jeff Robinson -AP

The Cardinals acquired Tyler O'Neill in a trade with the Seattle Mariners for prospect Marco Gonzales on July 21, 2017. After 101 games in Memphis Between 2017 and 2018, he got the call to the big leagues.

Tyler made his debut as a Cardinal on April 19, 2018, against the Chicago Cubs in Wrigley Field. O'Neill struck out in a pinch-hitting role. Not the start, he had hoped. Tyler went 0 for his first 7 Abs, and he was on the shuttle more than once between St. Louis and Memphis. He was finishing the season as mostly a pinch hitter and spot starter as needed. He has steadily risen to a primary cog in the Cardinal Machine.

Since 2018, Tyler and his value have been argued back and forth like a birdie in a badminton match. So much so, he could be considered a polarizing figure. You have those who advocate trade while his prospect value is high. Then some see a high ceiling in a player with his speed, power, and defense.

It is reasonable to suspect that the presence of Tyler O'Neil was a factor in The Cardinals' decision to not pursue Marcell Ozuna harder in 2019. The front office wanted to give the kids a chance like Carlson and Thomas. I think they felt very confident that 2020 would be the O'Neill break-out year. (that was until covid-19 threw more than a monkey wrench into the season. He has often been referred to as having 30+ HR and 80-90 RBI potential. Twice in the minors, he reached the 30 HR plateau. And in 2018, between AAA Memphis and St Louis, he hit 35 HRs in 368 ABs, Or about 1 HR in every 10.5 ABs. So the potential is there. He has shown it at other levels, and now he needs to do it on the big stage.

Tyler O'Neill High school via AP

O'Neill drafted out of Garibaldi SS Maple Ridge, British Columbia, Canada. O'Neill was taken in the 3rd round by the Seattle Mariners, and This was Tyler's favorite team growing up, so he was living a dream come true.

O'Neill was the top hitter for Canada in the 2013 World Junior Championship, hitting .385/.467/.885 with 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 8 runs, and 14 RBI in six games. He led the event in home runs, tied for first in doubles.

O'Neill began 2015, hitting the ball hard for the Bakersfield Blaze without getting on base much (.238/.275/.473, 16 HR in 65 G). He then joined Team Canada for the 2015 Pan Am Games. Tyler started in the outfield. He also hit in the heart of the order, starting 5th, then moving up to third. He hit (.188/.278/.469) with 3 homers and 6 RBI in eight games. He tied for second in the Pan Ams in homers. Also, in 2015, he played in the premier 12 for Canada going (.273/.360/.682, 3 HR, 8 R). In 2016 as a member of the AA Jackson Generals in the Southern League, He won the RBI title with 102, was second in Home Runs with 24, and 5th in Avg .293. One year later, Seattle needed young pitching, and the Cardinals were looking for a power bat prospect. The deal was made by sending Marco Gonzalez to Seattle in exchange for 22-year-old O'Neill. In 37 games at Memphis, he went(.253/.304/.548), 12 Hrs, and 39 RBIs. In 2018 with Memphis, he was (.311/.385/.693 /, 26 HRs, 63 RBIs). in 61 games with the big club.

After going 0-7, O'Neill was sent back down. He would be called back on May 18th. He got his first Big League hit against the Philadelphia Phillies. The next day he hit his 1st Big League Home Run. He would homer the Next two games as well. He then went on a 6 game hitting streak going 8 for 20(.400) with 1 2B, 3 HRs, and 6 RBIs. by the end of the season, Tyler would finish with a (.254/.303./.500 9 HRs, 23 RBIs) in 130 ABs. The downside was he had 57 strikeouts, which translates to a 43.8% Strikeout rate.

In 2019, he started with the Cardinals but was sent to Memphis for most of May and June. Then he hurt his wrist and was out and was out almost a month. Despite all that, he manages to hit (.262/.311/.411), 5 home runs, and 16 RBIs in 141 ABs. In 2020 he struggled, as did many players on the team going (.173/.26/.360), but the power numbers were still there, 7 home runs in 139 ABs. Two exciting notes to look at with Tyler in the last 3 seasons. Each year his strikeouts have gone down while his walks have gone up with a slight increase in the number of PAs each year.

2018 - 142 PAs, 57 SO, 7 BB, 9 HR

2019 - 151 PAs, 53 SO, 10 BB, 8 HR

2020 -157 PAs, 43 SO, 15 BB, 7 HR

So far this year, strikeouts and walks are trending in the wrong direction, BUT home runs are trending up up UP!

2021 - 76 PAs, 24 SO, 2 BB, 5 HR.

After two years as a PH/part-time player and a wacky Covid season, this might be the year we see what Tyler O'Neill can do. I have said on many different forums that I believe Tyler could be a 30/90 type of hitter. I think he can average in the .260s. If he can do that, he fits right in with Goldy and Nado as a murders row.

He has done all this while showing a Gold Glove defense in the Outfield. Tyler has shown he can track down a ball with the best of them. He has a better than average arm. The future looks very good for Captain Canada, and at only 26( he will be 27 June 22), He should give St. Louis fans plenty to cheer about for a while.

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