CBN Players of the Week: O'Neill, Naylor

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By George Farelli
Canadian Baseball Network

So what do you do when you are a minor-league prospect and your team signs a guy to an eight-year contract who plays the same position?

Well, if you are Josh Naylor you go out an have an out-STAND-ing week.

Naylor batted .417 with three homers and 10 RBIs for the double-A San Antonio Missions.

What do you do if your team trades outfielders -- Stephen Piscotty, Randal Grichuk and Magneuris Sierra -- opening the door and then sends you out.

Well, if you are Tyler O’Neill you go to the Memphis Redbirds and hit .360 with four homers and 10 RBIs.

O’Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) and Naylor (Mississauga, Ont.) shared Canadian Baseball Network minor-league Player of the Week honours for Week I.

 Former Langley Blaze Tyler O'Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) 

Former Langley Blaze Tyler O'Neill (Maple Ridge, BC) 

How O’Neill’s week that was went:

_ Batting clean-up and playing left field he was hitless with two strikeouts as manager Stubby Clapp (Windsor, Ont.) opened on the road with an 8-4 win over the Round Rock Express in front of 11,037 at the Dell Diamond in the season opener. Former Markham Mariner Carson Kelly had two singles.  

_ Playing left and hitting clean up, O’Neill went off -- as did most of the Memphis roster. He had three hits: a double, two home runs and drove in five in a 17-4 victory over Round Rock in front of 10,036. He hit a two-run homer to left off Adrian Sampson, an eighth year pro, in the third. Again he took Sampson deep with a two-run shot to right in the fifth. And in his second at-bat of the 12-run seventh he doubled to left. Kelly was hitless.

_ Playing DH and hitting third, O’Neill had two hits, including a homer in an 11-6 win against Round Rock before 8,726 fans. O’Neill hit a two-run homer off Yohander Méndez, a seven-year pro, who pitched in nine games in the majors. Kelly singled and drove in a run. 

_ Batting third and playing left, O’Neill had three hits, including a homer and drove in three runs n a 4-1 victory over Round Rock before 8,878 fans. The former Langley Blaze hit a two-run homer off former Blue Jays minor leaguers Austin Bibens-Dirkx in the fifth, had a run-scoring single to left in the third and singled to left in the eight.

_ Playing left and batting third, he singled on a line drive to left facing Tyler Wagner in a 4-2 loss to Round Rock in front of 6,247. Kelly homered against Wagner, a seven-year pro, who has seven games experience in the majors.

_ DHing and  hitting third, O’Neill doubled in a pair of runs in a 3-2 win over the Omaha Storm Chasers before 4,267 fans at AutoZone Park. O’Neill doubled to centre facing Trevor Oaks to score two runs. 


How Naylor’s work week went:

_ Hitting second and playing first on opening night, Naylor had two singles in a 3-1 loss to the Arkansas Travellers before 5,051 fans at Dickey-Stephens Park. Former Ontario Terrier Cal Quantrill (Port Hope, Ont.) worked 3 2/3 pitches allowing one run on two hits and four walks in his 91-pitch outing.

_ Batting second and at first, he hit two solo homers in a 6-2 win over Arkansas in the first game of a doubleheader. His first, a two-run homer, was off Chase De Jong, a former second round pick of the Toronto Blue Jays, who pitched seven games in the majors last year with the Seattle Mariners. And his second, another two-run homer, came off reliever Joe Pistorese, who is in his fourth pro season. 

_ And in the nightcap, hitting second and playing first, Naylor drove in three runs in a 5-3 win over Arkansas before 5,187. Naylor doubled off fourth-year pro Anthony Misiewicz and singled as well. Rowan Wick (North Vancouver, BC) picked up a hold with a scoreless inning allowing one hit, walking two and striking out one.

_ Hitting second and DHing, Naylor had three hits, including a homer and three RBIs as the Missions beat the Northwest Arkansas Naturals 8-4 in front of 3,875 fans at the Arvest Ballpark. Naylor homered off second-year pro Emilio Ogando, a two-run shot in the fourth. Naylor also singled in the second and again in the ninth.

_ Batting second and playing first, Naylor singled in a 5-2 victory against the Naturals. Ex-Jay Glenn Sparkmann started for the Naturals and Naylor singled off RP Jason Adam, a sixth-year pro before 3,107 fans. Wick picked up his second hold with a scoreless 1-2-3 seventh.

_ Hit second in the order, playing first and was hitless with a walk in a 4-0 loss to Northwest Arkansas before 4,291. Quantrill was a hard-luck loser pitching six innings allowing three hits and three walks in six innings. He fanned seven in his 91-pitch outing.

BEST OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCES
 
Player / Class / Team    AB    R    H    HR    RBI    AVG

Jared Young - A South Bend    15    6    8    1    3    .533
Josh Naylor - AA San Antonio    24    4    10    3    10    .417
Tyler O’Neill - AAA Memphis    25    6    9    4    10    .360
Malik Collymore - A Daytona    14    2    5    1    3    .357
Vladimir Guerrero - AA New Hampshire    23    6    7    2    8    .304

Jacob Robson - AA Erie    23    1    7    -    3    .304
Charles Leblanc - A Down East    20    5    6    -    3    .300
Jim Adduci - AAA Toledo    17    3    5    1    6    .294
Brett Siddall - AA Midland    18    3    5    -    3    .278
Louis Boyd - A Modesto    11    3    3    -    1    .273

Jamie Romak - KBO SK Wyverns    18    3    6    1    5    .333
(* Minimum 10 AB’s required)
 
BEST PITCHING PERFORMANCES
 
MIKE SOROKA  RHP  -  AAA  GWINNETT STRIPERS
 
APP  IP  H  R  ER  BB  K  W-L  SV  WHIP  WK ERA

  1   5.0  3  -   -    1   5   1-0   -    0.80    0.00
 
Mike Soroka had an outstanding season in 2017 and at just 19 years of age, the Calgary native won 11 games for Rome Braves in the double-A Southern League. His performance earned him the Canadian Baseball Network’s 2017 Minor League Affiliated Pitcher of the Year Award.
 
Currently with the triple A Gwinnett Stripers, he and teammate Kolby Allard both only 20 years old, are presently the youngest pitchers in the International League. This week Soroka had an excellent first start with Gwinnett, pitching five scoreless innings in a 3-1 victory over the Norfolk Tides. He surrendered only three base hits, while striking out five Norfolk batters, to earn his first Win of the season.
 
ANDREW ALBERS  LHP  -  JAPAN  ORIX BUFFALOES
 
APP  IP  H  R  ER  BB  K  W-L  SV  WHIP  WK ERA

  1   6.0  3  1   1   3   8   1-0   -    1.00    1.50
 
Andrew Albers had a very successful 2017 season, one which included 12 wins with Gwinnett Braves, Atlanta’s triple-A affiliate in the International League and then in late season, having his contract acquired by the Seattle Mariners with whom he appeared in nine big league games, winning five and pitching to a 3.51 ERA.
 
Despite his success in 2017, and the opportunity to win a position as a starter in the Mariners rotation for 2018, Albers opted to sign a contract as a free agent with Orix Buffaloes in the Japanese Pacific League. This week he made a very successful start with Orix, on April 4th in a 7-1 victory over Lotte Mariners he pitched six solid innings, gave up only three base hits and one earned run while striking out eight Lotte hitters to pick up his first ever win in Japan. It’s interesting to note, according to my records Andrew Albers becomes just the eighth native born Canadian ever to pitch in the Japanese League.