Post-Hype Prospect: Is It Time To Believe In Tyler O’Neill?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It had looked like Tyler O’Neill was going to be a bit of a washout, hitting .174 in April and totaling 5 HR over the first two months of the season.  He had started showing signs prior to being traded to St. Louis (in exchange for Marco Gonzales), and at the end of the day the numbers were right around where we’d have expected:

.246 (122-495), 31 HR, 95 RBI, 77 R, 14 SB

Obviously everyone likes to see the power and speed combination, with the batting average being the red flag.  After posting a 26.1% strikeout rate at Double-A in ’16 the fear was that it would balloon even further upon reaching Triple-A.  However he was able to keep it in check, regardless of which affiliate he was playing for:

  • Mariners (396 PA) – 27.3%
  • Cardinals (161 PA) – 26.7%

That’s promising, and it’s more his BABIP (.295 and .266) that caused the poor batting averages.  At the same time his 16.4% SwStr% doesn’t give hope that an improvement, at least a significant one, is possible.  You could argue that he was swinging for the fences, though the numbers again weren’t outrageous (42.4% and 45.6% fly ball rates) so there is definitely hope that he can pull his average up into the .260ish range.  Coupling that with his power potential and there’s a lot to like.

Prior to the season Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 compared O’Neill to Jay Bruce (just from the right side of the plate), and that comparison still seems reasonable.  It would feel a lot better if O’Neill could reduce his strikeout rate (Bruce owns a career mark of 23.7%), but the idea of 30 HR and 7-10 SB is right there.

There’s a lot to like in that profile, as long as he can keep the strikeouts reasonable.  That’s not a given, and he could ultimately be more of a Corey Dickerson/Scott Schebler type that produces power and a few SB, but a .230ish average.  Time will tell, but the upside is there.

Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Prospect 361

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