Slugger signs in NCAA, pro scouts come calling

Maple Ridge slugger weighing options of whether to play college ball or sign with a MLB team

Maple Ridge's Tyler O'Neill  batted .403 with 10 doubles

Maple Ridge's Tyler O'Neill batted .403 with 10 doubles

Play out an NCAA baseball scholarship, or turn pro? It’s a question Tyler O’Neill is wrestling with.

On the same day as it was announced that the Maple Ridge slugger had signed a letter of intent to join the Oregon State baseball team in 2014, representatives of the Houston Astros dropped by his house for a visit.

It was his first visit from a Major League Baseball team, but two more are scheduled to come in December.

“They love the long ball – especially catchers who can hit the long ball,” said O’Neill.

Ball clubs at every level take notice when a high school player dominates the prospect factory that is the B.C. Premier Baseball League, as O’Neill did last season. With the Langley Blaze he was the MVP of the league and batted .403 with 10 doubles, four triples, six home runs and 39 RBI in just 134 at bats in 2012. Then the Garibaldi secondary senior went on to represent team B.C. at the Canada Cup.

His play draws comparisons to Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie – a fellow Blaze alumni who is projected to be a big league star. O’Neill appreciates the association with Lawrie, who was a first-round draft pick and who helped pave the way for the next crop of talent out of the BCPBL.

“It’s always good to be compared to someone like him. He plays the game hard, like I try to do,” said O’Neill.

The Oregon State Beavers courted O’Neill when he visited their campus in Corvallis earlier this month. He was impressed with the atmosphere, by everyone wearing the team gear and by the coaching staff that would help him develop his game.

He signed, and if he plays in the NCAA, it will be for the Beavers.

“We are very excited to have Tyler join us starting next season,” Oregon State head coach Pat Casey said in a press release. “He will bring a lot to this program, both on the field and off it. He is a very talented player who has a great makeup and will be a student-athlete of terrific character. Tyler has an offensive potential to hit in the middle of our lineup with real power.”

But if he is a high pick in the MLB entry draft in June, the lure of beginning a pro baseball career will manifest. He’s rated as the No. 85 player in North America by Baseball America and 109th by Perfect Game.

“It’s too far away for me to make an actual decision,” he said. “I won’t be able to decide until after the draft.

In the meantime, he’s hitting the gym hard, and on off days hitting the ball hard in batting practice. Just to cover all the bases, he has added yoga to his training regimen.

O’Neill will be taking into the Power Showcase Home Run Derby Dec. 27-30 at Marlins Ballpark in Miami, joining some of the top baseball prospects from across North America and other baseball nations like the Dominican republic. He’s looking forward to his moment at the plate.

“I love it. I love being on the big stage. I’m going to be ready for it,” he said.

“You just time it right, and swing as hard as you can.”

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.

A person receives a COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. sees 873 more COVID-19 cases Tuesday, decline continues

Hospitalizations up to 377, two more deaths for 1,515 total

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