O’Neill taking his cuts for Canada at world tourney

Maple Ridge product is a third round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners and is with Team Canada in Taiwan for the U18 Baseball World Cup

Tyler O’Neill is back in a Team Canada jersey as he starts the world junior hardball championships

Maple Ridge slugger Tyler O’Neill continues a dream baseball season for an up-and-coming prospect.

He is with Team Canada in Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) for the 18U Baseball World Cup, which will played from today (Aug. 30) to Sept. 8 in Taichung.

O’Neill has been a member of the national junior program, and was picked for the World Cup team’s 20-man roster after a trip to Australia.

O’Neill, a third round draft pick of the Seattle Mariners in the 2013 MLB Draft in June, turned pro after graduating and played rookie ball with the Mariners over the summer. He could have opted to attend Oregon State on scholarship.

In 28 games with the Mariners rookie team in the Arizona League, O’Neill hit .310 with nine extra-base hits (one home run, three triples and five doubles) and drove in 15 runs.

Baseball pundits expect this to be the most competitive tournament in the history of the event.

In 2012, the United States claimed the world title by defeating Canada in the gold medal game in  the 25th edition in Seoul, Korea.

Cuba is the record 18U world champion, having won 11 of the 25 titles. However they haven’t claimed first place or reached the gold medal game since the 2004 edition, when the event last was hosted by Chinese Taipei.

Teams are split into two first-round pools. Group A consists of host Chinese Taipei, Canada, Czech Republic, Mexico, Venezuela and Japan. In Group B is USA, Cuba, Australia, Colombia, Italy and Korea.

The top three teams of each pool advance to the semi-final round, which will be played in a round-robin format and starts on Sept. 5. The top two teams of the semi-final round will play for the world title in the gold medal game on Sept. 8.

Canada opens the tournament today, 6 p.m. PST with a tough game against Japan.

Live scoring for all games at the IBAF 18U World Cup are at www.ibaf.org.

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