Few, if any, hitters in professional baseball have had a better start to the season than Tyler O'Neill. The Cardinals' No. 4 prospect homered twice to highlight an offensive outburst by several of St. Louis' top young batters at Double-A Springfield and Triple-A Memphis on Monday afternoon.
O'Neill, after going 0-for-5 in his season debut, went on a torrid seven-game stretch in which he hit four homers and drove in 14 runs to earn a spot on the season's first Pipeline Team of the Week. MLB's No. 94 prospect then began this week by blasting a pair of long balls to bring his total to six for the season -- tied with fellow Canadian Josh Naylor (Padres' No. 16 prospect) for most in the Minor Leagues. O'Neill also added a single in Triple-A Memphis' 7-4 victory over Iowa, finishing the game 3-for-5 with four RBIs and three runs scored.
• O'Neill slugs way to Pipeline Team of the Week
Only Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper has more homers than O'Neill among all players in the Minors or Majors. And O'Neill has done it in five fewer games than the Nats' slugger.
MILB Video - Title: Watch: O'Neill crushes two-run homer - Url: http://www.milb.com/r/video?content_id=1919446283
O'Neill's hot start comes after he missed a chunk of Spring Training due to oblique and hamstring strains, which limited him to just 12 at-bats in Grapefruit League play. A slugger capable of playing all three outfield positions, He entered his first Cardinals camp a candidate to make the Opening Day roster after the club acquired him from Seattle last summer for left-hander Marco Gonzales. O'Neill hit 31 home runs in his first season at Triple-A in 2017, including 12 in 37 games for Memphis.
A number of other Cardinals prospects joined in on the barrage to begin the week. Max Schrock (Cards' No. 10) went 3-for-5 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored, while Oscar Mercado (No. 13) also crushed a solo homer for the Redbirds.
Edmundo Sosa (No. 16) hit a solo home run for Double-A Springfield in its 6-1 win over Frisco. Sosa, 22, doubled in the contest as well to finish the day 2-for-4 with an RBI and a pair of runs scored. Andrew Knizner (No. 9) added two hits and and scored a run for Springfield.
• Cardinals prospects' stats from Monday
All together, five of St. Louis' top 16 prospects combined to go 11-for-22 with two doubles, four homers, nine runs scored and seven RBIs, as the Cardinals' two highest affiliates rolled behind strong pitching performances from right-handers Dakota Hudson (No. 6) and Jake Woodford (No. 22).
Hudson, 23, allowed two earned runs on seven hits while striking out four in six innings for Memphis. Woodford struck out five in five innings of one-run ball for Springfield.