Tyler O’Neill made his major league debut with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2018. (Taka Yanagimoto/St. Louis Cardinals)

Maple Ridge’s O’Neill a hot hitter this spring

Locking down Cardinals outfield spot in spring training

Maple Ridge’s Major Leaguer Tyler O’Neill has enjoyed a great spring at the plate, and appears to have locked down a starting outfield job with the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Garibaldi Secondary graduate has been swinging a hot bat throughout spring training, and has posted some of the best numbers in the Majors. Through 14 games and 38 at bats he has hit .368 with his trademark power – two home runs and three doubles.

It was a great start for a guy who won his first gold glove for his defensive work in the outfield last season, but struggled mightily at the plate and hit just .173.

READ ALSO: Maple Ridge Major Leaguer wins Golden Glove Award

For his career, since breaking in during the 2018 season, O’Neill has hit .229 with 21 home runs and 58 RBI in 410 at bats. They are not bad numbers for a young slugger, but it appears the 25-year-old is about to improve on them.

He discussed the changes he has made as a hitter with MLB.com, saying he is staying back off his front foot, and better balanced.

“I’m loving the way I’m feeling right now,” he said.

He also talked about his mental approach to the game.

“I’m a firm believer in power of the mind. You can direct your energy anywhere, and your body is going to follow that way,” he said.

O’Neill added that he’s eliminating unnecessary thoughts and worries, and “playing ball like I did as a kid.”

READ ALSO: O’Neill honoured as Home Town Hero

“As a kid” he was a star in Ridge Meadows Minor Baseball, Then he tore up the BC Premier Baseball League with the Langley Blaze, before being drafted by the Seattle Mariners in 2013.

All of baseball’s pundits have his name written into a young Cardinals outfield to start the season. Opening Day is April 1, with a full 162-game schedule planned, and the Cards will open against the Cincinnati Reds.

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