* Tyler O'Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) is hitting his stride as the June 6-8 draft approaches ... and he is drawing a crowd of scouts. .... 2013 Top Canadians eligible for draft 2013 Canadians in the Minors 2013 Canadians in College Letters of Intent 2012-13 Canadians at Canadian schools
By Bob Elliott
How is the top high school draft prospect handling things as days dwindle down to a precious few?
Well, Tyler O’Neill is doing just fine thanks.
The annual draft of high schoolers and collegians takes place June 6-8.
And the Langley Blaze slugger, from Maple Ridge, BC, the home of Larry Walker, has been mashing British Columbia Premier League pitching.
A look at O’Neill’s game-by-game rundown, inside the one-month-to-go time frame:
May 7: 2-for-4 in a 10-3 win over the Coquitlam Reds in the opener of a doubleheader, as he singled in the first and the sixth inning
May 7: 4-for-5 with four RBIs in a 15-8 win against Coquitlam in the nitecap. He singled in a run in the first, had an RBI singled in the fourth, doubled in a run in the fifth and singled in a run in the sixth. Hall of Famer Pat Gillick, senior advisor to the Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, was at McLeod Athletic Park in Langley, BC that night. Gillick assists evaluating players before the draft.
May 9: 2-for-4 with three RBIs in a 14-1 win at Mundy Park in Coquitlam. He singled in a run in the second, doubled in two runs in the fourth.
May 11: Was hitless in two at-bats in a 3-2 win over the Victoria Eagles in the opener of a doubleheader at Lambrick Park .
May 11: Was 4-for-5 with nine RBIs -- yep, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9! -- in a 15-2 romp over the Eagles. He tripled in a run in the first, hit a three-run homer in the second, hit a two-run homer in the sixth and cleared the bases with a triple in the seventh.
May 12: Was 2-for-3 with two RBIs in an 8-0 win over the Victoria Mariners at Henderson Park in the first game of a doubleheader. He doubled in two runs in the third and singled in a run in the fourth.
May 12: Was 2-for-4 with four RBIs in a 14-4 win over the Mariners. He singled in the first and hit a grand slam in the second.
So, in the seven games since O’Neill entered he stretch run he is hitting .607 (17-for-28) with three doubles, two triples, three homers and 22 RBIs. He’s walked twice and struck out five times.
In addition to Doug Mathieson, who scouts for the Arizona Diamondbacks and runs the Langley program, Blaze coach Jamie Bodaly, who scouts for the Cincinnati Reds and Gillick, a number of other teams have been on hand to watch O’Neill:
Evaluators from the Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Miami Marlins, Los Angeles Angels, Oakland A’s, Tampa Bay Rays and the Los Angeles Dodgers have been watching Langley games.
“He’s built a little like Brett Lawrie and has some of that similar bulldog style,” said one scout.
“He may carry himself like Lawrie, but he hasn’t had that five homer doubleheader day in the Dominican like Lawrie -- off five fastballs at 90 MPH plus, but he has hit pro pitching with the Canadian Junior National Team and he’s impressed,” said another.
“He could still match Lawrie when they go on their Dominican trip,” said a cross checker.
“I like him a lot, my only question is, where do we play him?” said a veteran scout. “It could come down to, who plays left? Best bat. Who plays second? Best bat. Who catches? Best bat. If he shows he can hit they’ll find a position for him.”
On the season, O'Neill is hitting .559 (33-for-59) with seven doubles, four triples, six homers and 45 RBIs.