Monday, August 12, 2013

Organizational Cardboard Depth

2013 Bowman Platinum Mike O'Neill Autograph 

I was pleasantly surprised to Topps put Cardinals minor league outfield Mike O'Neill into their Bowman Platinum release this year.  I am positive that O'Neill is not a Top 20 prospect within the Cardinals organization, and as a 25 year old player starting the year in Springfield, it's hard to see O'Neill getting a serious crack at the big team.  Matt Holliday still is signed for another three years.  Uber-Prospect Oscar Taveras is on the mend from a high ankle sprain and might still make it to St. Louis in September.  Then there is Jon Jay and Allen Craig when Matt Adams is playing first base.  Yet, here O'Neill with an autographed card.

Topps should be applauded for taking the time to put a player like O'Neill into one of their Bowman sets.  There are many attributes which make him cardboard worthy.  While O"Neill is an older minor leaguer he has a career batting average of .333 and has posted a line of .320 in AA Springfield and a .370 line in AAA Memphis.  O'Neill has a little speed, but absolutely no power.  He's got a pretty good eye and patience at the plate with an OBP of over .438.  While many are down on O'Neill as a prospect, often compared to Juan Pierre, his ability to get on-base makes him a desirable commodity in my opinion.  Critics understand that O'Neill's on-base percentage is about 100 points higher than Pierre's.

I think of O'Neill as a sort of diamond in the rough.  He is an older minor leaguer, but I don't care if he is a 35 as long as he can help the team win.  Further, he is a pretty popular player amongst the fans in the minors making him the perfect candidate for an appearance on a baseball card.  How many Carlos Martinez and Oscar Taveras cards is Topps going to make before they reach the majors?  There are other good players in the minors beyond the few usual suspects that Topps sticks into their Bowman sets every year.  It's nice to see one get a nod.  Now, how about a Leslie Anderson?

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