SEATTLE -- Tyler O'Neill was at Safeco Field on Saturday night to receive the first Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners Minor League Hitter of the Year award, soaking up the stadium he'd someday soon like to call his home.But the 21-year-old Canadian is realistic about his timetable, knowing he's still working
SEATTLE -- Tyler O'Neill was at Safeco Field on Saturday night to receive the first Ken Griffey Jr. Mariners Minor League Hitter of the Year award, soaking up the stadium he'd someday soon like to call his home.
But the 21-year-old Canadian is realistic about his timetable, knowing he's still working his way up the ladder after an outstanding season for Double-A Jackson.
"I just wanted to come into Double-A and prove to everybody I belonged there," O'Neill said of his Southern League MVP season. "Now [next] year, I want to be in Tacoma and do the same thing there."
If he does, it'll only be a matter of time before the Mariners beckon, given his prodigious numbers this year as one of the youngest players in the Southern League. He put up a .293/.374/.508 line with 24 homers and 102 RBIs in 130 regular-season games at Jackson, then was a force in the postseason as well as he hit .448 with three homers and nine RBIs in seven playoff games.
O'Neill is headed to Phoenix on Wednesday to prepare for the Arizona Fall League, but was enjoying his stopover at Safeco first as he was one of six Minor Leaguers honored before Saturday's game against the A's.
"This is great," O'Neill said, glancing around the 45,000-seat stadium. "We don't have this in Double-A, so it's definitely a bit of a motivator."
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Andy McKay, the team's first-year director of player development, renamed all the awards after former Mariners, and Andrew Moore, a 22-year-old right-hander out of Oregon State, was thrilled to earn the Jamie Moyer Pitcher of the Year honor after splitting his season between Class A Bakersfield and Jackson.
"When I was in Bakersfield, I was able to talk to him quite a bit," Moore said of Moyer. "I picked his brain for a whole game while we were sitting in the dugout. I was asking him about his preparation, his work between starts, his mentality on the mound.
"I got quite a bit of stuff from him that I think about every time I'm out there," said Moore, who was 12-4 with a 2.65 ERA over 28 starts. "So it's a big honor for me to have the award named after him. And to have him here today is even cooler. It's a pretty cool way to cap my first year."
Left-handed reliever David Rollins, who's currently with the Mariners after spending much of his season with Tacoma, earned the Dan Wilson Community Service Award.
"When I was in Tacoma, we always had trips to [the] children's hospital or YMCA and I always volunteered to do that because I lost a cousin and I've lost a really good friend of mine to cancer," said the Texas native. "Just going in there and being able to make a kid's day for five minutes and see their eyes light up and laugh and smile means a lot to me. It's a sad deal seeing what they're going through, but being able to go in and make a kid's day is what it's all about."
Infielder Dalton Kelly from Class A Clinton received the Edgar Martinez PTPA (productive team plate appearance) Award after posting a .384 on-base percentage in 130 games. Infielder Zach Shank, who split his year between Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma, earned the Alvin Davis "Mr. Mariner" Award.
Clinton manager Mitch Canham received the Dave Henderson Minor League Staff Member of the Year Award after leading his team to the Midwest League championship series in his first season with the organization.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter [
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