The 2013 amateur draft will be held from June 6-8 this year, and between now and then I’m going to highlight some prospects individually rather than lump them together into larger posts.
Michael O’Neill | OF
The nephew of Paul O’Neill, Michael has hit .329/.384/.525 with six homers and 19 steals in 40 games for Michigan this year. He hit .316/.368/.447 with eight homers and 48 steals in 94 games during his first two years on campus, and it wasn’t until he performed well in the Cape Cod League last summer that his draft stock really took off. The Yankees drafted O’Neill out of high school with their 42nd round pick in 2010.
Listed at 6-foot-1 and 195 lbs., O’Neill’s game isn’t all that similar to his uncles. He has true center field skills with above-average speed and a strong throwing arm, though he has often played the corners for the Wolverines in deference to senior (and likely top 5-8 rounds pick) Ryan Biondi. O’Neill has solid power from the right side, but he doesn’t always tap into it because he struggles against breaking balls and his plate discipline needs work. During his three years in school, he’s struck out 88 times while drawing only 31 walks (21/9 K/BB in 2013). Most college hitters with legit pro potential are closer to a 1.0 K/BB. Like his uncle, O’Neill is an intense competitor and hard on himself. There are a few more videos available on YouTube.
Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America ranked O’Neill as the 77th and 80th best prospect in the draft class in their latest rankings, respectively. He was much more of a nepotism pick back in 2010, but O’Neill is a legitimate prospect and someone the Yankees could target with their second round selection (66th overall). There are some adjustments that will have to be offensively for him to hit at the upper levels, but he has the talent to develop into a 15/15 center fielder with above-average defense if things break right.