Name: Conner O’Neil
Born: Kennewick, Washington
Age: 22 (9/25/94)
Height/Weight: 6'2"/190 lbs
School: California State University: Northridge
An All-Conference athlete for his sophomore, junior, and senior seasons, Conner O’Neil graduated from Southridge High School in Kennewick, Washington and attended Central Arizona College, a community college in Coolidge, Arizona that has produced its fair share of baseball players. In 2014, he and his brother, Spencer, helped lead the Vaqueros to the ACCAC League Championship. Splitting his time as a starter and a reliever as needed, Conner posted a 3.06 ERA in 47.0 innings pitched, allowing 37 hits, walking 16, and striking out 54.
The following year, O’Neil transferred to Cal State Northridge, where he once again played baseball. Now a member of the Matadors, he had arguably his most successful collegiate season. The right-hander pitched 62.0 innings, starting three games and making 25 appearances out of the bullpen. He posted a 1.89 ERA, saving 12 games. He allowed 42 hits, walked 18 batters, and struck out 64. His junior season was similar: starting three games and making 20 appearances out of the bullpen, O’Neil posted a 3.07 ERA, saving 10 games. He allowed 45 hits, walked 33 batters, and struck out 70.
Based on his performance in 2016, the Detroit Tigers drafted O’Neil in the 32nd round of the 2016 MLB Draft. He elected to return to college for his senior season, and had another characteristic year. Pitching completely out of the bullpen, O’Neil posted a 2.70 ERA in 50.0 innings pitched, notching seven saves and setting Cal State Northridge’s all-time saves record. He allowed 35 hits, walked 27 batters, and struck out 63.
O’Neil’s fastball sits 87-92 MPH. Unlike most pitchers who use their fastball as their base, O’Neil pitches “backwards,” throwing his breaking ball more than his fastball. His bread-and-butter pitch is a high-70s slider that grades out as above-average by most scouts. In addition, he also throws a changeup that flashes some promise—showing a decent amount of tumble—and a curveball. He is able to command all of his pitches well. He has a knack for reading hitters and adjusting his game plan from pitch to pitch, turning to whichever offering suits his need at the moment based on how the hitter is performing.
O’Neil throws from a high three-quarters arm angle. His delivery is simple and deliberate, leaving him in good fielding position.