No Seattle player has won the American League Triple Crown, but a Mariners prospect has a realistic chance to win the rare title in his league.
Double-A Jackson Generals outfielder Tyler O’Neill is leading the Southern League in all three Triple Crown categories with two weeks left in the season.
To win a Triple Crown, a player must lead his league in batting average, home runs and runs batted in.
O’Neill appears to have the RBI category locked up. His 94 RBIs put him far ahead of second-best Dustin Peterson (brother of Tacoma’s D.J. Peterson), who has 81.
The batting average and home runs categories are going to be tougher to win.
O’Neill’s .302 batting average going into Saturday is the top figure in the league, but not by much. Two players are hitting .299 — and one of them is no longer in the league, so O’Neill must stay above .299.
He needs to beat out only one player in home runs. O’Neill has hit 22, Daniel Palka of Chattanooga has 21, and Kevin Cron of Mobile has 20. Palka has been promoted to Triple-A, but Cron is still active in the Southern League. No other player has more than 14 home runs.
O’Neill is attempting to become the second player to accomplish the feat in Southern League history. He’s trying to pull it off while being one of the youngest players in the league, having just turned 21 on June 22.
The first Southern League Triple Crown winner was Mike Reinbach of the Asheville Orioles in 1972. Reinbach was 23 when he won the award. He had a brief call-up to the Baltimore Orioles in 1974 before starring for the Hanshin Tigers in Japan for five seasons.
The Pacific Coast League’s Fresno Grizzlies finished off their seasonlong “Fresno Tacos” promotion with a tremendous success on Thursday night.
The team’s annual Taco Truck Throwdown drew a crowd of 14,651 — the second-largest crowd in the history of Chukchansi Park.
The Fresno team played as the “Fresno Tacos” at every Tuesday home game during the season, building up to the Taco Truck Throwdown. The players wore jerseys with “Tacos” spelled out on the front and hats with nothing but a taco insignia on the front.
In Thursday’s Throwdown, more than 30 taco trucks from around Central California parked inside the stadium gates — Chukchansi Park features a large concourse — and a taco competition was held.
Officials estimated that more than 35,000 tacos were consumed.
The Tacos won the game, too: Fresno beat Omaha in 11 innings, 2-1.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.