Mariners send prospect Tyler O'Neill to Cardinals

 The Seattle Mariners dealt Maple Ridge, B.C., native Tyler O'Neill to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin/AP

The Seattle Mariners dealt Maple Ridge, B.C., native Tyler O'Neill to the St. Louis Cardinals on Saturday. Photo Credit: Ross D. Franklin/AP

By Andrew Hendriks

Canadian Baseball Network


With baseball's non-waiver trade deadline approaching, the annual shuffle of both minor and major league talent is now in full swing as organizations begin to align themselves for a shot at postseason action or start swapping talent in an effort to build for the future.

This was the case on Saturday when the St. Louis Cardinals completed a deal that sent left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for the M's No. 2 prospect, Tyler O'Neill.

A native of Maple Ridge, BCm who grew up playing on Larry Walker Field, O'Neill was a third-round selection by the Mariners in 2013 and, as a rare Canadian-born right-handed batter, has slashed .269/.344/.505 with 89 home runs since making his affiliated debut after graduating the Langley Blaze as an 18-year-old.

Finishing second in all of affiliated minor league ball with 32 home runs during his first full season in the Mariners organization, O'Neill followed up his impressive rookie campaign by knocking another 24 round trippers and leading the Carolina League with 102 RBIs the following year. For his efforts, the Team Canada alumni captured league MVP honors and, after helping propel the Jackson Generals to a championship in 2016, also took home the postseason MVP award in the team's final season as a Mariners affiliate.

Through 93 games with triple-A Tacoma in advance of Saturday's deal, O'Neill posted an OPS of .807 with 44 walks and 42 extra-base hits over 396 plate appearances.

 Five of his 19 home runs in 2017 had come over his last 21 at-bats.

"This was more of a traditional trade in the sense that O'Neill was an outfielder with upside in the Mariners organization and Gonzales was a pitcher with upside in our organization," explained Cardinals president of baseball operations, John Mozeliak in a written statement on Saturday. "If you look at the depth we have with the pitching in our system; it allowed us to make a move like this to improve. We are excited for Tyler to join our organization."

Gonzales, 25, has pitched in parts of two big league seasons, going 4-2 with an ERA of 5.53 across 40 2/3 innings. With the trade, he becomes Seattle's No. 7 prospect as ranked by MLBPipeline.com.

Expected to earn a major league promotion at some point during the 2018 campaign, O'Neill, a two-time Randy Echlin Award winner, which is awarded annually by CBN to the Canadian offensive player of the year, will report to the triple-A Memphis Redbirds where he will be reunited with his 2015 Pan Am coach, Stubby Clapp.

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Andrew Hendriks

Born in southern Ontario during the late 1980's, Hendriks had a front row seat to watch the Blue Jays reach the pinnacle in '92/'93 as a child, an experience that only bolstered this Canadian's love for the "American Game." Having played since before his memory allows access too, his passion for Baseball grew over years of emulating his heroes on the local sandlots, memorizing the backs of chewing gum scented cards and travelling across North America to experience as many aspects of the game as possible. In 2009, Hendriks began volunteering at the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame as a Weekend Tour Guide. By 2010, he was hired on to help curate for the museum & Instruct the fundamentals of the game along side such legends as Tony Fernandez, Roberto Alomar and Jim Fanning during the Hall's annual Kids On Deck program. Following the 2011 season, Hendriks began blogging and co-hosting a weekly podcast for www.BackInBlue.ca, a Blue Jays themed website ran by fans, for fans. Looking to continue connecting with baseball fans across the country, Hendriks is excited to join such a strong team at the Canadian Baseball Network and looks forward to chipping in.