(Twitter photo)                                Tyler O’Neill’s teammates celebrated a walk-off home run by ripping off his shirt, showing the muscles that have the young slugger already numbered among the most powerful hitters in the majors.

(Twitter photo) Tyler O’Neill’s teammates celebrated a walk-off home run by ripping off his shirt, showing the muscles that have the young slugger already numbered among the most powerful hitters in the majors.

O’Neill makes an impression in first season

Maple Ridge ball player shows Major League power

Tyler O’Neill’s first season in Major League Baseball is over, as his St. Louis Cardinals finished just outside of the playoff race in the National League.

The Garibaldi secondary graduate got 130 at bats in his first season of big league action, hitting nine home runs with 23 RBI. His average was .254, and on base percentage .303.

O’Neill, at just 23, established himself as a bona fide power hitter with the way the ball jumped off his bat.

His average exit velocity of 93.3 miles per hour ranked him 15th in the majors, up there with the premier sluggers.

He also had some big moments, including a walk-off home run in late September, which his teammates celebrated by ripping his shirt off at home plate, showing the bulging muscles of a guy who was billed the strongest man in baseball by Cardinals media.

Earlier in the month, he hammered a ball that went 457 feet, which was the third longest by a Cardinals player this season.

The rookie slugger has been criticized for a high strikeout rate, but showed he has nothing left to learn in the minors. At triple A Memphis this year he continued his assault on minor league pitching. He now has 733 at bats at triple A, and has hammered 57 home runs while hitting .267 with a .342 on base percentage.

O’Neill was drafted in 2013 by the Seattle Mariners 85th overall, and then traded to the Cardinals.

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