When Tyler O'Neill has found his power swing once this season, he's made a habit of making teams pay twice. Sunday, the Cardinals No. 2 prospect took it a step further.O'Neill went yard three times for the first time as a professional, plating four runs, as Triple-A Memphis rode the
When Tyler O'Neill has found his power swing once this season, he's made a habit of making teams pay twice. Sunday, the Cardinals No. 2 prospect took it a step further.
O'Neill went yard three times for the first time as a professional, plating four runs, as Triple-A Memphis rode the long ball to a 7-4 win over Colorado Springs at AutoZone Park.
It marked the fifth three-homer contest in the Pacific Coast League this season and the sixth in Redbirds history -- the first since Jamie Romak powered Memphis to a rout of New Orleans on April 8, 2013. O'Neill moved into a tie for the PCL lead in long balls with 23 with Salt Lake's Jabari Blash.
Sunday marked the fifth multi-homer game of the season in the Minors -- the 13th of his career -- for the 2013 third-round pick. It was O'Neill's first since June 13 against Albuquerque.
"It was fun out there. I was just trying to find my places up there today, and it all paid off," he said. "Every time I'm up there at the plate, I'm just trying to find a good pitch to hit. I'm not looking for specific results up there. It's all about achieving the process that I'm working on during my preparation. I want to be short to the ball, extend through it, and the results will take care of themselves."
Baseball's No. 50 overall prospect followed Luke Voit's solo shot in the first inning with a blast to left-center field. In the third, O'Neill sparked a two-out rally by smacking his second dinger over the wall in right-center and Adolis García followed suit one batter later. It was the second time this season Memphis has gone back-to-back twice in one game.
After striking out in the fifth, O'Neill stepped up with one out in the seventh and the Redbirds holding a 5-4 advantage. He gave the Memphis bullpen some breathing room with a two-run shot that plated Voit.
Gameday box score
The left fielder stands tied with Blash despite making three trips to the Majors as well as a brief stint on the disabled list with a left groin strain in the beginning of July. It's been an unusual season of jet setting for O'Neill, who had never been promoted or sent down in his previous five pro seasons. During his 19 games with the Cardinals, he's posted a .227/.255/.455 slash line and three homers in 19 games while occasionally serving as designated hitter.
O'Neill said his plate approach of not going homer hunting, despite his power and run production potential, has helped him stay in the moment during 2018. But Sunday will be filed away as a good memory, particularly since it helped turn the tide after a 4-for-19 stretch since coming off the DL.
"This was really big for my confidence," he said. "Being on the DL [stinks]. Not playing [stinks]. I needed to get back in that rhythm, see pitches better and get some results. It was good for my mentality, and it helps everyone on the team. Hitting is contagious.
"For me, though, the rest of this season, I just want to be the best player I can be in every moment and level I'm in and stay confident and humble to try and keep it rolling."
Voit finished 4-for-5 while scoring twice and knocking in a pair of runs.
Redbirds starter Tyler Webb didn't allow a hit while walking two and striking out four over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Tommy Layne (1-0) gave up one hit over one inning for the win and Edward Mujica notched his 12th save with a perfect ninth.
Andrés Blanco belted a two-run homer for the Sky Sox.
Nathan Brown is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @NathanBrownNYC.