In a season in which many of the Seattle Mariners’ most touted hitting prospects have put up disappointing numbers in the minors, the production from Single-A Bakersfield outfielder Tyler O’Neill is a refreshing positive development.
The Mariners selected O’Neill in the third round of the 2013 draft out of Garibaldi High School in Maple Ridge, British Columbia.
A right-handed hitter with a powerful bat, O’Neill was hitting .261 with six home runs in his first 31 games for Single-A Clinton last year when he had a moment of immaturity — he broke his hand punching a concrete dugout wall in frustration.
That resulted in three months on the disabled list — and a lot of time to think.
O’Neill has been healthy throughout the 2015 season, and recently he has been productive.
The Mariners sent O’Neill to Bakersfield to start the season, knowing that at age 19 he would be one of the youngest players in the California League.
He was hitting for power but batting just .238 on July 3 when he left Bakersfield to play for Team Canada in the Pan American Games in Toronto. O’Neill played center field while helping Canada win the gold medal, and since returning to Bakersfield, he has been on a tear at the plate.
O’Neill, now 20, hit .424 with four doubles and six home runs in 33 at-bats over his previous nine games heading into the weekend. He boosted his season numbers to .260, 22 homers and 59 RBIs.
“He’ll be an interesting individual to watch,” said Mariners minor league outfield instructor Brant Brown, who has worked with O’Neill the past three seasons. “He has legit power to all sides of the field.”
As is often the case for young hitters, plate discipline is an area that needs improvement. O’Neill struck out 98 times with just 14 walks in 289 at-bats before Saturday.
O’Neill is a corner outfielder who has shuttled between left field and right field this season for Bakersfield.
“When we first got him, he was all about hitting,” Brown said. “This year he’s really taking both sides seriously and making an effort to be better defensively, and he even played center in the Pan-Am Games.”
Pacific Coast League HR Leader Traded
A trade deadline deal between the San Francisco Giants and Cincinnati Reds had a big effect on the Pacific Coast League home run race.
In acquiring major league starting pitcher Mike Leake, the Giants traded Triple-A Sacramento slugger Adam Duvall to the Reds.
Duvall leads the PCL with 26 home runs, and he has a big cushion over the 20 homers hit by runner-up Jamie Romak of Reno.
Even if the Reds keep Duvall in Triple-A, he’ll be out of the PCL. The Reds’ Triple-A affiliate is Louisville of the International League.
Romak, El Paso’s Cody Decker (19 home runs entering Saturday), Reno’s Peter O’Brien (19) and Round Rock’s Jared Hoying (18) each have a chance to catch Duvall’s total before the end of the season.
Mike Curto is the radio broadcaster for the Tacoma Rainiers.