Former Blaze slugger expected to make big league debut

Maple Ridge’s Tyler O’Neill, who tore up the BC Premier League with Langley, could play this week for St. Louis Cardinals

Former Langley Blaze standout Tyler O’Neill is expected to make his Major League debut this week.

According to MLB.com’s Joe Trezza, the St. Louis Cardinals are planning on promoting O’Neill prior to Thursday’s game against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field.

O’Neill is off to a fantastic start at the Triple A level with the Memphis Redbirds, the top affiliate of the Cardinals.

The power hitter leads the Pacific Coast League lead with 18 RBIs and is tied for the lead with six home runs. Nine of his 19 hits are for extra bases and he has a .388 batting average, .385 on-base percentage and .837 slugging percentage.

O’Neill, who is from Maple Ridge, played in the Blaze organization and was drafted in the third round of the MLB draft in 2013 by the Seattle Mariners and turned pro after graduating from Garibaldi Secondary that year. After progressing through the ranks of the Mariners organization, Seattle shipped to the Cardinals last July for left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzalez, a first round draft pick in 2013.

SEE: Mariners trade top prospect O’Neill

“The one thing that we talk about is finding those bats,” Cardinals president of baseball operations John Mozeliak said at the time of the trade. “This is a player that has a lot of offensive upside … so for us it adds to our offensive depth.

“(He has) middle-of-the-order potential.”

If and when the 22-year-old O’Neill does make his MLB debut, he will become the third member of the Blaze organization to play in the majors, joining pitcher Scott Mathieson and infielder Brett Lawrie.

Mathieson was drafted in the 17th round of the MLB draft by the Philadelphia Phillies and made his MLB debut in 2006. He played in 15 MLB games for the organization over three seasons before going to Asia to further his career. He currently plays for the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball.

Lawrie was a first round pick of the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008 and he signed pro after graduating from Brookswood Secondary.

He was later traded to the Toronto Blue Jays and played the majority of his six-year career with the team, before being traded to Oakland. Lawrie last played in the MLB in 2016 with the Chicago White Sox.



sports@langleytimes.com

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