When Will Mariners Top Prospect Tyler O’Neill Make His MLB Debut?
By Adam Levi
There are many things for Mariners fans to be excited about in 2017 and one of those things is the probable debut of the M’s current number two prospect and 2016 wunderkind, Tyler O’Neill.
The Mariners minor league star player last season was Tyler O’Neill. Due to his greatness in 2016 -that we at Sodo Mojo covered ad nauseam– the expectation of him making his MLB debut in 2017 is very high.
O’Neill dazzled on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball this past year.
Playing in the outfield, O’Neill had a fielding percentage of .982 while setting career-highs in both outfield assists with 10 and double plays turned with 3 while playing for the Mariners Double-A affiliate, the Jackson Generals.
At the plate, he smashed and dashed his way to outstanding numbers. He blasted 24 home runs, stole 12 bases, legged out 26 doubles and drove in 102 RBI.
Some of these power numbers were slightly lower than his 2015 statistics, but that year he was playing at the Advanced-A level, therefore, he was facing lesser talent.
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All of this led to numerous awards and plenty of worthy attention.
His journey in the minors is moving along quite briskly and O’Neill is taking the punches of the bus league grind very well.
Starting at the rookie-level league, he’s jumped four tiers over the past three years. When asked by the press about his meteoric rise, he told the press:
"“I’ve been told that I’ve moved through the system pretty quick here. I’m just trying to perform the best I can every day and let results take care of themselves.”"
One would only imagine that when he starts the 2017 minor league season at the Triple-A level after his spring training invite -it will be his first taste of the highest level of minor league baseball and spring training- that he will continue to move right along and make the big jump to the big leagues. And that’s exactly what his plan is.
"“The goal this year? Start in triple-A and let my performance dictate my timeline to the big leagues,”"
The Mariners would love to have O’Neill playing at MLB-quality to finally give him his shot in the majors, but even if he did, when would he get his first playing time in a Mariners uniform? We posed that question to the fans and their response was mixed.
While the answers are scattered, that’s only because it’s a mix of people’s hopes and realism butting heads.
The 48% that voted that they thought he would probably debut in the first half of the season are using wishful thinking to get the M’s 2nd best prospect his call up.
The other 52% see that O’Neill may have to jump in in case of injury or he may be a late season addition when rosters can expand on September 1st or maybe even the next year.
We’ll have to see how he’s playing in 2017 and how that fits in with Dipoto’s “win now” strategy.
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Whenever O’Neill finally does make his Mariners debut, it will be an exciting day much like it was when Edwin Diaz did last season. We can only hope that O’Neill electrifies like Diaz did in his first exposure to the majors.
If his minor league play is any indication, he should do just fine once he finally buttons up his Mariners jersey.