by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were high hopes for the Mariners’ Tyler O’Neill entering the season, with the thought being he could make an impact at some point in 2017. However he’s off to an extremely disappointing start in his first taste of Triple-A:
.212, 6 HR, 26 RBI, 29 R, 5 SB
Strikeouts have always been a part of his game, and he currently sits at 27.6% to open the year. His 17.4% SwStr% is similar to that of Peter O’Brien (17.1%), and we all know how his game has translated to the Majors (or should we say the lack there of).
It’s not to say that there isn’t hope, as he has hit the ball relatively hard (25.5% line drive rate), though the strikeouts will always cap his average potential. The bigger concern, however, is the complete lack of power.
Playing in the Pacific Coast League you would expect there to be a bump in power. Instead it’s disappeared, with an 8.7% HR/FB. Since erupting for 32 HR at High-A in 2915 the number has consistently regressed as he’s moved up in level:
- High-A (2015) – 24.2%
- Double-A (2016) – 14.9%
- Triple-A (2917) – 8.7%
That’s obviously a discouraging mark, though having added 17 doubles and 2 triples gives us a bit of hope. Given his pedigree there’s reason to believe that some of those doubles will start turning into home runs, in time, and that would put him right along where we’d have expected him to be.
Prior to the season, when we ranked him as the team’s second best prospect, we said:
“After hitting .293 with 24 HR, 102 RBI and 12 SB at Double-A (showing his proximity to the Majors), the hype machine is going to be in full force for O’Neill. Considering he hit 32 HR at High-A in ’15 there’s obviously reason to believe in his power, though he has not supplemented the long balls with a significant number of additional extra base hits (21 doubles and 2 triples in ’15, 26 doubles and 4 triples in ’16). He also has shown a propensity to swing and miss at an excessive amount:
High-A – 30.5%
Double-A – 26.1%
Obviously improving, despite the tougher competition, is an impressive sign. That said last season’s mark still has a long way to go. It’s something that could be exposed at Triple-A, and how he produces early in the year will help to cement our impressions.”
Granted, the fact that the strikeouts have been consistent is somewhat promising and there also is the potential for the power to start showing up at any time. While others may be down on him, now is not the time to give up. It may only take a strong week or two for his stock to completely turn and the hype machine to be back in full force.
While his stock is “down” for many, consider it the status quo really. While it’s been a rough transition, there’s reason to believe.
Source – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2017 Prospect Rankings: