The Curious Case of Mike O’Neill

Before we play the “compare game”, it’s important to note there are many other variables involved, and by no means am I trying to imply that A = B = C. Just having a little fun.

Listed below are minor league stats for Hall of Famer “X” , lifetime Minor Leaguer Rick Short, and Cardinals AA Outfielder Mike O’Neill.

A little background on each:

Hall of Famer “X” was a 7th round draft pick, made his major league debut at age 24 and played 18 seasons, all in the American League. A published scouting report is quoted as saying “his bat was slow”.

Rick Short, was a 33rd round draft pick out of Western Illinois. He became a national story in 2005, when he was called up to the majors after 12 minor league seasons. He is a career .400 hitter in the majors, but was never given an opportunity at regualr at-bats. He spent several other seasons in the Japanese League and is currently an area scout for the Diamondbacks.

Mike O’Neill was drafted in the 31st round from USC. He plays left field for the Springfield Cardinals, and spent several weeks with Memphis in the 2013 season. The 26-year-old is on the Cardinal’s 40 man roster and possesses a first degree black belt in karate. (insert smiley)

After finishing the 2013 season in Memphis, one would have assumed, as he most likely did also, he would begin his 2014 season in Memphis. A couple of injuries, and maybe he could find his way onto the big club. Instead, with the organizational outfield logjam, he found himself back at Springfield. He has struggled this season, posting an uncharacteristic .265 batting average.

Scouts would tell you he is the perfect lead-off hitter. He takes as many pitches per plate appearance as any Cardinals minor-leaguer. His career OBP is an outstanding .427. He walks at twice the rate he strikes out, and though not overly fast, is a smart base runner.

What does the future have in store for O’Neill? How does he find a way onto the major league roster? With Holliday, Bourjos, Jay and Craig gobbling up playing time in St. Louis, and Grichuk, Piscotty, and Taveras demanding the call from AAA, there doesn’t seem to be any room for O’Neill. He even has to battle James Ramsey, the current center-fielder in Springfield for the first call-up to AAA.

So, accumulating stats like Hall of Famer “X” seems impossible at this point, even though their minor league stats are incredibly similar. If O’Neill spends the rest of 2014 in the minors, he enters 2015 at 27 years old. With 24 being the average age of left-fielders making their ML debut, O’Neill is well behind in that category. However, the Cardinals are notorious for letting their players ‘age’ in the minors. 2,100 minor league at-bats in the norm for Cardinals making their first appearance in St. Louis. O’Neill will be nearing that level this season.

Maybe Japan will call, or maybe he is included in a late-season trade to a team with a lack of outfield depth. Maybe O’Neill becomes the next Rick Short.


Hall of Famer “X”
G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP OPS
662 2680 333 724 112 8 9 248 29 366 149 .318 .412 .798
Mike O’Neill
G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP OPS
380 1595 227 418 67 11 3 119 45 247 117 .320 .427 .823
Rick Short
G PA R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP OPS
1163 4623 610 1318 265 6 90 623 54 349 435 .319 .379 .829

Oh…..Hall of Famer “X” is Wade Boggs, for those who didn’t already know.

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com:

  • Buddhasillegitimatechild38

    Interesting, though his inability to play anything but a below avg defensive LF probably keeps him from eber hitting the bigs with the Cards, maybe period

  • John Smith

    I agree his lack of positional flexibility really hurts. If he was able to play some infield spots, or even center/right, it would add to his value tremendously.

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