Jason Churchill puts O'Neill number one (!) on his prospects list. Exec Sum:
- Is only 6 months older than Alex Jackson, but played MUCH better TWO levels higher
- Effortless plus-plus PWR based on elbows down, not on a swing from the caboose
- Athletic, fast (= potential good defender in corner OF)
- Would be able to hit in the Middle Of The Order (MOTO) with a .250-.260 average
- Needs to progress in the attitude of patience, as opposed to progressing in hand-eye coordination
Gutsy call, putting O'Neill first. Good on yer, selling long on yer own judgment rather than re-boxing the consensus for us.
OK, James' rule is that you're a Grade A prospect if you dominate AAA at 22, and AA at 21, and high-A at 20. Did O'Neill do any of these? Well, he batted .260/.316/.558 in high-A at age 19. It's a matter of taste whether you consider that "ripping up" high-A, blasting 32 homers but laboring through a 29:137 EYE ratio. Dr. D looks at EYE before anything, so...
Here is a site that lists historic California League stats. Other 19-22 year-olds who slugged .500-and-plenty with ghastly EYE ratios there:
2010: Paul Goldschmidt age 22, Rich Poythress age 22, Grant Green age 22 ... Johermyn Chavez, age 20.
2009: Coby Clemens age 22, Joe Dunigan age 22, Carlos Peguero age 22... Scott Van Slyke age 22, though his EYE was 1:2.
2008: Chris Carter age 21, Carlos Santana age 21, Mark Trumbo age 22...
You can click around yerself for a while and let me know. At a first go-round it doesn't look to me like a whole lot of 19-year-olds had Cali League slugging averages of .566. So, that's kewl. On the other hand, few of the above players had EYE ratios as bad as O'Neill did. You've got a young air conditioner here with special PWR talent and a fair number of days on which he was overmatched.
Here's a vid of O'Neill's batting practice. Indeed the dude has got Popeye forearms and a quiet lower body. And here's his 28th homer last year. Have to grant Jason's assertion that it starts with his hands, wrists and forearms.
O'Neill slugged .733 in 30 AB's at the Arizona Fall League. No matter what they tell ya, that's better than slugging .161 with 0 walks and 12 whiffs like some a' those guys did. When DiPoto speaks of buy-in on plate discipline, Tyler O'Neill's name has to go top of the list. He goes first, and the other minor leaguers' names, behind his. Remind us to check O'Neill's EYE at midseason, wouldja.
MLB Hall of Fame prototypes who were exaggeratedly wrist hitters: Edgar Martinez, Mickey Mantle, Hank Aaron, Johnny Bench, Jim Rice.