Prospect #1: OF, Tyler O'Neill
Previously Ranked 4th
Memphis Redbirds, but he should be on the St. Louis Cardinals
Acquired from The Seattle Mariners for LHP Marco Gonzales
The Stats As Of 8/23/2018
THE QUICK WRITE UP
The home of Tyler O'Neill
True baseball masher
In every park, demand
With long flyballs, he makes us rise
The true son of the North is he
From far and wide,
We stand and cheer for theeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee"
Tyler O'Neill, at this point, is basically a major leaguer. He's the one "basically major leguer" that I've left on the list. I did that because of the logjam of outfielders ahead of him...
"The logjam of outfielders ahead of him..." hmm... What a shame, really. The Cardinals' season has been weird. They've had three outfielders that have disappointed. As a matter of fact, those three outfielders have disappointed so bad that Harrison Bader, the world's most perfect fourth outfielder, has become the fan-bases sworn savior. What we should be doing is asking for more Tyler O'Neill. I'd kill to see what a month's worth of starts for O'Neill would yield. Not just a weekend's worth of starts, or a weeks worth of starts, but an entire month. Give him a chance to get comfortable. Give him a chance to rake.
O'Neill solicits a lazy Randal Grichuk comparison more than he should. I get why most fans go to Grichuk for an O'Neill comp: they're both athletic and strong with big home run power and way too many strike outs. That's fine. What gets lost is that O'Neill is a former MVP in the minor leagues. He's always had a higher walk rate, too. O'Neill is a way more developed hitter with a way better approach and understanding of the strike zone than anything that we ever saw out of Grichuk while he was with the Cardinals.
Tyler O'Neill is as exciting and dynamic of a power threat that the Cardinals have had in the system for as long as I can remember. Will his strikeout total eventually cause him to have a short career? Will his power catapult him to a All-Star level success? I don't know, but I think that it's time that we find out.
WHY TO GET EXCITED, or LET'S NOT OVER THINK THIS
The way he talks is awesome
He looks like he only eats muscles and those muscles turns into more muscles through his muscles.
He hits "dingers"
He hits those "dingers" really far
He hits those "dingers" a lot.
He's just.... power, ya know?
But he's also a very good athlete and surprisingly solid corner outfielder. He has an above average arm and he covers an above average amount of ground for a corner outfielder.
He takes more walks than your average power hitter. This is why he isn't "Randal Grichuk 2.0" as some in the fan base have lazily labeled him. That and he has real, in-game power and not just power that you can guess or dream on.
THE WAY HE TALKS IS SO DAMN AWESOME IS THAT ROBOCOP OR THE CANADIAN ROCKY BALBOA WHO KNOWS WHO CARES!!!!!
He's major league ready. He should be in the Cardinals lineup at least 85% of the time from this point until the end of the season as the Cardinals decided how to best retool for 2019. At this point, his AAA leading 26 home runs are wasting away at Memphis.
His swing is quick. It's compact. It's wonderful and powerful. The other thing that stops him from being Grichuk 2.0 is that he gets rung up more often on fastballs late in counts because he's looking to shorten up to hit the breaking stuff, especially the breaking stuff low/out. That stuff will get him early in counts but usually not later in counts. Wait, this is a reason to be cautious. Dammit.
He's pedigreed. Not only genetically, as his father was a world class body builder. But also from an awards standpoint. O'Neill is the former MVP of his Double-A league. He nearly won the Triple Crown of that league. He's been a consensus Top 100 Prospect for years, even with the strikeout questions. He's like Colby Rasmus if Colby Rasmus wasn't Colby Rasmus.
WHY TO BE CAUTIOUS
Look, O'Neill is going to strikeout a lot. It'll probably be about 30% at a couple different points in his career, is my guess. But I'll take 30 strike outs and eight home runs in every 100 at-bats especially because he's probably going to walk 6-10 in those 106-110 plate appearances.
He's athletic and swift now, but I'd imagine that his ability to be an above average outfielder will erode quickly because of his body type. That's a guess, though because LOOK AT HIM HE'S A MUSCLE.
But the main issue is obvious; hitters that strike out with the frequency that O'Neill strikes out have a very narrow margin of error. If the power goes away or fails to be 30+ home run power then it's hard to justify keeping that player in the lineup.
He's not a center fielder although the Cardinals have played him there somewhat frequently since he entered the organization. This limits his versatility, of course, but it's not something that matters to me at all. He'll work out there in a pinch.
Other than that, the only reason to be cautious is that there are still too many outfielders in the organization. That he's not in the majors right now speaks to that. Every minute that his production wastes away in Memphis is production that isn't happening for the big club. He's ready for the challenge, and every second that he isn't with St. Louis while he's hot and hitting is a wasted chance to get his proper major league career off to a good start as an everyday starter.
Ultimately, O'Neill=Kris Davis. I mean, there's a lot of other things that I'd like to say but this is the damn 43 article that I've written in two weeks and I just want to stop typing!
Thanks to the fine folks at Fangraphs for taking us on this 43 part journey through the Cardinals system. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to go and drink myself into a coma.
Thanks For Reading!!