by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The arrival of Tyler O’Neill comes as a bit of a surprise, since there is no clear path to playing time. Hot start or not, and he was off to a blazing hot start at Triple-A (.388, 6 HR and 18 RBI over 49 AB), why would you call up a young kid just to sit on the bench and get a few AB?
The team’s website shed some light on the decision, as they said:
“By promoting O’Neill, the club provides protection, whether Pham’s injury is serious or not. The 22-year-old slugger brings immense raw power, sneaky speed and an ability to play all three outfield positions. If Pham is fine, O’Neill would give the Cardinals a fifth bench player for the first time this season. The team had been carrying eight relievers, but saw no need for an additional arm during the upcoming schedule. The Cards have three off days built into the next 13 days.”
It makes sense for the team, but it also means that this promotion will likely not be O’Neill’s long-term arrival. Assuming Pham is healthy the Cardinals have a starting outfield of Marcel Ozuna, Pham and Dexter Fowler, with Harrison Bader and Jose Martinez available as depth. While O’Neill could get a few starts to give someone a little bit of rest, every day AB simply aren’t there.
In regards to his production, we all know O’Neill isn’t going to be able to maintain this type of average over the long haul. He’s currently benefiting from a .371 BABIP, despite a 17.5% line drive rate. He also carries the risk of a significant rise in strikeouts, currently owning a 19.2% strikeout rate despite a 13.9% SwStr%. Last season splitting time between two Triple-A teams (he was traded from the Mariners mid-year) he owned marks of 27.1% and 16.4%, respectively, so it’s an obvious issue to watch.
There’s no questioning his power, as he hit 31 HR last year (along with 26 doubles and 3 triple), but the risk of his average plummeting is real. As we said prior to the season, when we gave graded him a “B-“:
“In other words we’re looking at a player who could be a .250 hitter with 30 HR, though if the power isn’t there he could instead hit .220 or worse. That makes him a significant risk.”
A strong start in the Pacific Coast League doesn’t change that outlook. In the short-term that changes even further, since he may only receive a handful of AB. Long-term there’s value in regards to his power, just know the risks.
Fantasy Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team League – Too shallow
- 12 Team League – Monitor in case of injury to Pham
- 14+ Team League – Worth owning
- NL-Only League – Must own
- Keeper/Dynasty – Must own
Sources – MLB.com, MILB.com, Fangraphs
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