Mariners fans have known the name of Tyler O’Neill for a while as he’s one of the team’s prized prospects, but he’s still a bit of a mystery to many around baseball.
That may have been the case for three-time National League Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw before Friday night. It certainly isn’t any more.
That’s because O’Neill flexed his prodigious muscles while in the box against the Dodgers ace in a Mariners Cactus League win over Los Angeles, absolutely crushing a fourth inning offering from Kershaw well past the fence in left field and onto a concourse at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix.
It was the first of three homers the Mariners cracked off of Kershaw, who had a career-low 1.69 ERA last season and has surpassed 200 strikeouts in six of his nine MLB seasons.
O’Neill, 21, has had a very strong spring. Not only is he hitting .320 with a .414 on-base percentage, .600 slugging percentage and six RBIs, he saw regular playing time in Canada’s three-game stint in the World Baseball Classic. He just may have enough of a case to make his MLB debut at some point in the 2017 season, something a home run off perhaps the best pitcher in baseball couldn’t have hurt.