Maple Ridge ball player eyes MLB draft

Maple Ridge’s Tyler O’Neill has a well-earned reputation for hitting the long ball.

Maple Ridge’s Tyler O’Neill is headed to the Power Showcase Home Run Derby in the new Miami Marlins Stadium next month.

Maple Ridge’s Tyler O’Neill is headed to the Power Showcase Home Run Derby in the new Miami Marlins Stadium next month.

Maple Ridge’s Tyler O’Neill has a well-earned reputation for hitting the long ball. And one night in North Vancouver earlier this year, the kid they call Tank hit a home run so big it turned his whole season around.

It’s easy to see where the nickname came from. O’Neill has always been physically big, something he owes to both genetics and his own hard work.  O’Neill’s father Terry, is a former Mr. Canada, and taught him everything he knows about weight-lifting.

“If I’m not playing ball or studying, I’m lifting weights,” he says. “I don’t take days off.”

Last winter, however, O’Neill’s passion for the game of baseball may have got the better of him when he suffered a hernia while working out.

“I don’t know if I wasn’t breathing enough or what, but it just went pop,” O’Neill recalls.

Still suffering the effects of hernia surgery, O’Neill’s batting average slumped to the low .200s midway through the 2012 Premier Baseball League season. After a pep talk with his coach Doug Mathieson of the Langley Blaze, O’Neill changed up his swing, and soon found the results he was looking for.

“My coach told me I have to start playing out of my shoes, and I followed his advice,” he says. “I started using my strength and swinging with everything I had.”

The North Shore Twins opted to pitch around the batter ahead of him that night in North Vancouver, no doubt hoping capitalize on the slugger’s slump.

O’Neill wasn’t having any of it, knocking an out-of-the-park home run to bust his slump and turn his season around. It was his first home run of the season.

By the time the 2012 came to a close, O’Neill was named the BCPBL’s rookie of the year, top offensive player, led the league in home runs (six), most RBIs (39), had the highest slugging percentage (.680), and most extra base hits (20).

“That was my first extra base hit all year,” he says of the home run in North Vancouver.

Not surprisingly, he was named to the BCPBL’s first all-star team, and was a member of Team B.C., hitting three homers in nine games at the Canada Cup.

Although he’s still a Grade 12 student at Garibaldi secondary school in Maple Ridge, where he holds a 3.7 grade point average, O’Neill already has big league bat speed. And it hasn’t gone unnoticed.

O’Neill is currently being courted by a host of NCAA Division 1 schools, and has seen his stock rise ahead of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft in June.

However, he hasn’t made up his mind yet if wants to go the college route, or head straight to the pros.

“It all depends on where I get drafted,” he says. “I’m just focussed on going as high as I can.”

In the meantime, O’Neill is spending the fall touring with scouting teams across the US, and preparing for his second year in the BCPBL with the Langley Blaze. O’Neill is the only ball player from Western Canada going to the seventh annual Power Showcase Home Run Derby in the new Miami Marlins Stadium. O’Neill also gets the chance to play in an international all-star game as part of the event.

“I’ve only ever been in one home run derby before, so I’m hoping to make it 2-0,” he says.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Students in Garibaldi secondary’s music program rehearse for Swing into Spring. (Special to The News)
Maple Ridge high school adding a spring to their step

Swing into Spring concert to raise money for the Garibaldi secondary’s music program

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of Maple Ridge man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Langley, Pitt Meadows, and Maple Ridge still driving more, taking transit less

A sign to students outside Pitt Meadows secondary. The school is not currently listed by Fraser Health as having COVID-19 exposures. (Neil Corbett/The News)
Four more Maple Ridge/Pitt Meadows schools exposed to COVID-19

Cases at three public schools and Maple Ridge Christian

Born and raised in Maple Ridge, Ernie Daykin is still astonished at this community’s beauty. He recently captured this image of the snow covered peaks of the Golden Ears in the background, and cherry blossoms in the foreground. (Special to The News)
SHARE: View of Golden Ears from many different perspectives

Send us your photo showing how you view Maple Ridge or Pitt Meadows, and it could be featured soon.

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Of 46 arrests made between March 16 and 19 at Metrotown mall in Burnaby, 27 suspected shoplifters are now facing charges. (Twitter/Burnaby RCMP)
RCMP arrest 46 people in 4 days during Metrotown shoplifting crackdown

$4,800 in stolen merchandise was recovered and returned to businesses inside of the mall

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
‘Prolific offender’ charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Kao Macaulay, 23, is accused of breaking into home on March 30

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Most Read