O’Neill Traded To Cardinals

Hey, don’t look at me. I don’t get it, either.

Today the Mariners traded Rainiers outfielder Tyler O’Neill to the St. Louis Cardinals for left-handed pitcher Marco Gonzales. Gonzales is reporting to Tacoma, and we presume O’Neill is joining Memphis.

The 22-year-old O’Neill leads the Rainiers with 19 home runs, and he’s been on a real tear lately. He just hit five homers in a five-game series at Albuquerque, and he has 13 homers in his last 27 games. After two months of struggles in the PCL, he has caught fire over the past five weeks and slashed .324/.430/.745 over his last 27 games.

Despite the recent hot streak, O’Neill is something of a project. He strikes out in about one-third of his at-bats, and his defense has been questionable at times (though that has improved recently). But his power will play anywhere.

After watching him struggle the first two months of the season, I figured O’Neill would need two years of Triple-A ball before he was likely to be ready for MLB. I still hold this opinion, and it’s not a bad thing at his age. Adam Jones played two years for Tacoma, and so did Shin-Soo Choo. Both reached the Triple-A level at a young age, needed substantial time to adjust, and then had long MLB careers.

I’m not surprised that the Mariners traded O’Neill, because the major league outfield is a strength right now. The surprise today was the timing and the return. I thought that an O’Neill trade today would bring an established major leaguer, for a playoff push this year. If that was not currently possible, then why not keep O’Neill and see if he keeps hitting for the rest of the year, increasing his trade value?

None of this is a knock on Gonzales, who is having a fine season at Memphis as he recovers from elbow surgery at age 25. A former first round draft pick out of Gonzaga in 2013, Gonzales was fast tracked to the big leagues before injuring his elbow.

He’s much farther along in his recovery than the Rainiers other recent ‘Tommy John’ surgery subject, Tyler Cloyd. Gonzales has routinely been throwing 95-to-100 pitches every fifth day this year.

With Memphis, Gonzales is 6-4 with a 2.90 ERA. He’s made 11 starts, pitching 68.1 innings and allowing 54 hits. He has walked 17 and struck out 57. He has delivered a Quality Start in eight of his 11 outings.

Gonzales is probably ready for another shot at a major league rotation right now. We’ll see if the M’s give him an opportunity soon.

Now the Rainiers need an outfielder. Double-A Arkansas has four outfielders who are hitting right now in Ian Miller, Chuck Taylor, Dario Pizzano, and Kyle Waldrop.

Trade season is just under way, and we’re going to see more action.

Look for some of the Rainiers veteran relievers to be moved to organizations where they have a better chance at returning to the major leagues. At this point in the season sending a Mark Lowe or Jean Machi to a team where they may get a major league call-up is the right thing to do.

RAINIERS ROUND-UP

Yesterday: Tyler O’Neill‘s final game as a member of the Rainiers was a whopper: he went 2-for-5 with two homers and five RBI in Tacoma’s 14-11 win at Albuquerque on Thursday afternoon. Gordon Beckham also homered twice, and Boog Powell had four hits. Thyago Vieira looked impressive in his Triple-A debut, retiring five of six batters faced with three strikeouts and showing 99 mph heat.

Roster Moves: Tyler O’Neill was traded to the Cardinals for LHP Marco Gonzales, who joins Tacoma in a day or two. Yesterday the M’s called up Max Povse and optioned Sam Gaviglio to Tacoma; Povse is coming right back to Tacoma today.

Today: Sacramento (40-57) at Tacoma (48-50), 7:05.

Opponent Affiliation: San Francisco Giants.

Season Series: Tacoma leads, 7-6.

Starting Pitchers: RHP Jose Flores (0-1, 3.94) at RHP Chase De Jong (3-4, 5.95).

Hot RainiersLeonys Martin has a seven-game hitting streak, but he was ejected yesterday for arguing balls and strikes… Dan Vogelbach has a five-game hitting streak… Tyler Smith has played 39 straight errorless games at shortstop, dating back two months to May 18. That doesn’t include ten error-free games in the majors with Seattle.

Look Out For: Juniel Querecuto has a six-game hitting streak… Ali Castillo has gone 8-for-16 during a five-game hitting streak… rehabilitating Jarrett Parker has a five-game hitting streak, and so does Justin Ruggiano.

Broadcast: The pregame show starts at 6:50 on South Sound Sports 850 AM. The broadcast also streams online via the TuneIn app – just click here.

PCL Scoreboard: Follow all Pacific Coast League games in real-time with links to Gameday screens right here.

Links:

PCL Game Reports:

  • Reno is still hanging on to first place in the Pac-North, staying a game ahead of Fresno by beating Salt Lake, 7-3.
  • Dozens of baseballs were murdered and tempers flared in Fresno’s 18-5 win at Las Vegas. In the four-game series Fresno scored 22, 19, 2, and 18 runs.
  • Sacramento allowed three runs in the eighth and lost at home to El Paso, 5-3. The River Cats come to Tacoma having won five of their last seven games.
  • Clayton Blackburn pitched Round Rock to a 3-2 win and a series sweep over New Orleans.
  • Omaha outfielder Jorge Soler homered twice and the Storm Chasers took down Colorado Springs, 6-4.
  • Nashville topped Iowa, 7-5, when Renato Nunez hit his PCL-leading 25th homer with a man on in the top of the ninth. The paper has a story on an Iowa player who was hit in the face by a pitch – click at your own risk, there is a photo (everyone is OK).
  • Touted pitching prospect Walker Buehler had a disaster start in his Triple-A debut for Oklahoma City. The Dodgers lost to Memphis, 10-8.
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