O'Neill to get invite to Spring Training

Mariners prospect likely to start season at Triple-A

O'Neill to get invite to Spring Training

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Tyler O'Neill, the Mariners' No. 2 prospect, per MLBPipeline.com, will get an invitation to Major League camp this spring and be given a chance to compete for a 25-man roster spot, though general manager Jerry Dipoto acknowledged Tuesday that Seattle's outfield depth likely keeps the young Canadian at Triple-A Tacoma to start the year.

O'Neill, 21, was the Southern League MVP last year for Double-A Jackson after posting a .293/.374/.508 line with 24 home runs and 102 RBIs in 130 games.

"He'll be a non-roster invite to camp and given a chance to show what he can do," Dipoto said Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. "The degree of likelihood is he'll start the season in Tacoma. But we're not going to send him back to Double-A again. This is his chance to move forward.

"He had a very good Fall League, he had a very good season. He's done all the things we've asked him to do. It's his time."

O'Neill's game-tying RBI single

But Dipoto acknowledges it would be unlikely for O'Neill, who was one of the youngest players in the Southern League last year, to leapfrog to the Majors. The Mariners expect Leonys Martin and Seth Smith to be joined by more-advanced prospects Ben Gamel, Mitch Haniger and Guillermo Heredia on the 25-man roster, with Nelson Cruz and Danny Valencia also capable of playing corner spots.

Worth noting

• Ryan Yarbrough, a 24-year-old right-hander who was the Southern League Pitcher of the Year for Jackson last year, is in a similar situation as O'Neill and likely ticketed for a promotion to Tacoma, according to Dipoto. Yarbrough was 12-4 with a 2.95 ERA in 25 starts at Double-A.

• Dipoto confirmed that closer Edwin Diaz is expected to pitch for Puerto Rico in the World Baseball Classic in March, joining the growing contingent of Mariners who are ticketed for the 16-team tournament that falls in the middle of Spring Training.

Felix Hernandez is committed to play for Venezuela and Robinson Cano and Cruz are confirmed for the Dominican Republic. James Paxton will pitch for Canada and Dipoto says first baseman Valencia (Israel), relievers Pat Venditte and Dan Altavilla (Italy) and starter Hisashi Iwakuma (Japan) are all on the prospective early rosters for their countries.

• Word that outfield prospect Boog Powell would need to sit out all organized workouts in Spring Training turned out to be incorrect. The Mariners now say Powell, who has five games remaining on his 80-game suspension for a failed drug test, will be able to work out with the team and participate in Cactus League games in spring, but must miss the first five regular-season games before he's eligible to return. Dipoto indicated Powell likekly will open the season in Tacoma.

Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.