Thanks for joining Redbird Rants today. How are things treating you with Palm Beach?
Mike O’Neill: Daniel, Thanks for having me. Things are going very well so far in Palm Beach. The first half of the season is almost completed and I’m ready for the second half.
Daniel Solzman: Congrats on being named to the Florida State League All-Star Team. Could you describe what it feels like to be named an All-Star?
Mike O’Neill: It is a great honor being selected to the FSL All-Star game. There are so many great players in the FSL and to be recognized as one of them is truly special. This is my first professional All-Star game, and it will definitely be one that I will never forget.
Daniel Solzman: What was it like playing for USC Trojans head coach Chad Kreuter and how did he prepare you for the next level?
Mike O’Neill: 3. Coach Kreuter was a very knowledgeable coach. He spent 10+ years in the Major Leagues and he was able to share some of his wisdom with the team and I. What I learned most from Coach Kreuter was that baseball is a grind and never get too High nor Low in this game. Also, he helped change my batting stance, which helped me succeed in Collegiate play.
Daniel Solzman: You played at University of Southern California with Robert Stock, a catcher/pitcher that is currently playing the Cardinals organization. Would it be nice to play again with him at some point as you both climb the minor league system?
Mike O’Neill: 4. Robert Stock and I are great friends. He was one of the most talented pitchers at USC. Whenever he was on the mound my day in the outfield just got a little easier. Hopefully, sometime in the 2nd half, Robert and I will be teammates once again.
Daniel Solzman: What was the feeling like last season when you hit your first professional home run?
Mike O’Neill: 5. Last year, when I hit my first “professional” home-run, I thought it was a mistake. It was to lead-off the game and when it cleared the fence, I had to pinch my arm to make sure I was not dreaming. Hopefully, I can get a couple more this year.
Daniel Solzman: What’s it been like this season playing under manager Johnny Rodriguez?
Mike O’Neill: Johnny Rodriguez, or I like to call him “Skip,” is one of the greatest coaches I have ever had the pleasure of playing for. Not only does he continually teach me how to become a better ballplayer, he treat his players like men. Wherever Skip manages, he wins (and I love winning).
Daniel Solzman: You’ve been tearing it up in the minors. Has Hitting Coach Jeff Albert done anything to help improve your numbers this season or is he just letting you do things your way?
Mike O’Neill: 7. My “5-tool” hitting coach Jeff Albert has been working on one thing the whole season with me, and that is my mental approach. He has never once tried to change my mechanics. What he has preached to me is to use my strengths in various scenarios throughout the game. Therefore, with Jeff helping my approach, my numbers have improved. Also, Jeff is able to give me right and left handed batting practice on a continual bases.
Daniel Solzman: Thanks again for joining us. Any final words for the best fans in baseball?
Mike O’Neill: Thanks again for having me Daniel, and for the Cardinals fans out their thank-you so much for your support and I hope to see you at a game in near future!