O'Neill was recently cited by assistant coach Willie McGee for, among other traits, his underrated speed, Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. "He can run, man," McGee said. "I didn't know he was that quick. He's right up there in the league with all the rest of them from home to first." McGee, whose responsibilities include coaching the team's outfielders, recently provided his assessment of several of his charges from his home in San Francisco. Regarding O'Neill, who's had some struggles making consistent contact during his first two big-league stints, McGee emphasizes the tools are far from lacking, noting the 24-year-old is "a lot better than what he's shown." The once-fleet-footed outfielder also notes the key to O'Neill taking the next step in his development is a more relaxed approach, theorizing that if and when the slugger settles into an everyday role, his ample natural abilities will shine through. However, job security was potentially an issue for O'Neill when spring training was suspended, as he'd hit just .219 (7-for-32) during Grapefruit League play and had seen Lane Thomas seemingly close the gap in a bid for the starting left field job.
O'Neill may have been close to being overtaken by Lane Thomas for the starting left field job when spring training was suspended, Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports. The burly outfielder had opened spring training hot at the plate, slugging two home runs over his first five Grapefruit League games. However, Frederickson notes that by the time play was paused, Thomas had out-homered O'Neill by a 3-2 margin and also had a 40-point advantage in on-base percentage. O'Neill was hitting just .219 (7-for-32) over 13 exhibition contests by the time spring training was suspended, and the aforementioned pair of homers he launched early marked the only times he left the yard during the spring slate. Frederickson does add that he believes O'Neill will still get the nod if the battle is deemed close enough by manager Mike Shildt, as the team remains very high on the slugger's upside.
O'Neill is hitting .308 (4-for-13) with two home runs and three RBI over his first five Grapefruit League games heading into Tuesday's action. The slugging outfielder went deep Sunday against the Astros for his second round tripper of the exhibition slate and is off to a good start in terms of making a case for the starting job in left field. O'Neill was hampered by a wrist injury late last season, but he generated a solid .262/.311/.411 line with six doubles, five home runs, 16 RBI, 10 walks and 18 runs across 151 plate appearances in 2019 during what was his second big-league tour of duty. He has formidable competition in the form of surging prospect Dylan Carlson, but given his prodigious power and past major-league experience, O'Neill looks like the favorite for a starting job at this point in the spring.
O'Neill (wrist) was activated off the 10-day injured list Friday. O'Neill landed on the shelf with a left wrist strain at the start of August and will rejoin the Cardinals after being sidelined for nearly a full month. The 24-year-old has a .279/.316/.434 slash line in 46 games and figures to mostly work as the fourth outfielder for the stretch run.
O'Neill (wrist) went 2-for-4 with a solo home run and two runs overall while playing eight innings in right field during Double-A Springfield's loss to Frisco on Tuesday. O'Neill continued his successful sojourn through the minors with Tuesday's multi-hit effort. The slugger has hit safely in all five rehab games, and given the power he displayed versus Frisco, appears to be on the verge of activation.