Once a week we head over to the M's minor league leaders and, lo and behold, Tyler O'Neill has amassed 83 total bases already. Last time we had a 20-year-old wrecking AA like this, didn't it turn out to be Shin-Soo Choo? Where is G-Moneyball when you need him?
Back in the Choo day, we ran some tables on very young players who'd ripped up the Southern League. Such tables include the Nick Franklins, of course -- that's why AA players are "prospects." But AA pitching is sequenced and precise, and if you've got a 21-year-old rampant there you've got a blue-chipper.
The M's site has O'Neill #4 in the org, giving him credit for "effortless plus power" and claiming he can hit home runs whether or not he "catches it flush on the barrel." Scouts also like his HIT tool when he stays cool at the plate.
O'Neill is Jason Churchill's adopt-a-player, as it were. Jason asserts that he is making steady progress in walks and in hitting the ball up the middle, which had been Jerry DiPoto's sine qua non for O'Neill.
Here's a look at his swing from last night. Very quiet, as Moe said, with just the slightest toe-tap. Sinks his weight and sort of bounces it up on the followthrough, compact to the ball with a short stroke, reminding you of Paul Goldschmidt's swing. Goldschmidt at 20 was in college; in 22 he was wiping out A+ ball (with a 53:161 EYE not unlike O'Neill's now) and at 23 cleaning up in AA. Of course, by 23-24 Goldschmidt was also doing well in the National League, though he didn't become Goldschmidt until age 25-26.
Obviously you are a legitimate comp for Paul Goldschmidt after you hit 30+ homers in the bigs, like you're a legitimate comp for Mike Mussina after you win 200 games. :- ) Well, actually you're a comp for Goldschmidt after you rack up 7 WAR in a single season, probly. Nothing wrong with templates, though.
Up with a bullet for O'Neill.