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Yankees 2014 Roster Report Card: Michael O`Neill

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Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Grade: B

2014 Statistics: .256/.333/.384, 10 home runs, 42 stolen bases at Low-A Charleston

2014 Level/Roster Status: Low-A/Non 40-man

People were intrigued when the Yankees drafted Paul O`Neill's nephew in the 2013 MLB Draft. Obviously, there are a lot of expectations that come when you follow in the footsteps of a fan-favorite All-Star hitter, but what people need to realize is that Michael O`Neill and Paul O`Neill are completely different players. While the older O`Neill hit for average and power and drew walks, the younger O`Neill survives on his contact abilities and his speed on the base paths. They couldn't be more different. It's unfortunate that Michael O`Neill must live in the shadow of his uncle because he has talents of his own, but such is the way things work in the baseball world.

Michael O`Neill got his feet wet in Staten Island last year and he wasn't overly impressive, with a triple slash in the twos and a K-rate in the 30s. Thankfully, in his first full year of professional baseball, O`Neill showed a lot of improvement. He didn't quite hit for average, but he did reach base at a consistent rate and he did cut down on his strikeouts to some degree. It's still too often and doesn't walk much, but he did manage to hit to all fields and he excelled at reaching on infield singles:

Michael O`Neill

O`Neill also showed a surprising amount of power, hitting 10 home runs on the year. As a right-handed hitter, he showed an ability to pull the ball with a majority of his extra-base hits and home runs heading to left. While he'll likely max out in the teens if he's lucky, his ability to hit to all fields, coupled with his propensity to pull the ball could make him a real threat with the bat.

His true strength lies in his legs, as he ended up stealing a total of 42 bases while only being caught nine times. Couple his hitting patterns with his skills on the base paths as one of the top base stealers in the minors, and he's looking a lot more like Brett Gardner (without the patience) or Ichiro Suzuki (without the high average) than any O`Neill. The only catch is that he's already 22 and only in Low-A. He'll likely start in High-A Tampa next year and if he can continue to play to his strengths while adding more power he could move his way up quickly and even become a legitimate prospect down the line. He just needs to keep running.