O'Neill was a little too aggressive during a Spring Training game last year, though, and it cost him.
Trying to take an extra base and go from first to third on a bunt, the 5-foot-9 runner found the catcher covering and came out the worse for wear on a head-first slide, hurting his right knee.
"I won't try that again," the former University of Southern California standout said. "Not only did I get hurt, but I was out, too."
The injury cost O'Neill part of last season. But he is healthy now, and pitchers in the Florida State League aren't getting the left-handed hitter out very often.
O'Neill had a pair of four-hit games over a stretch of four days and hit .471 in his first seven July games to raise his average .361 -- tops in the league among active players.
O'Neill also had drawn 43 walks for a .445 on-base percentage and had struck out just 15 times in 280 at-bats.
"I'm patient and look for my pitch," O'Neill said. "When I get it, I don't miss it."
O'Neill was shifted from center field to left at Palm Beach after the arrival of Florida State All-American James Ramsey, taken by St. Louis with the 23rd overall pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft. But there is no moving O'Neill out of the leadoff spot.
"It's my job to get on base and set the table," the 24-year-old said. "That's my role and I thrive on it."
O'Neill wasn't taken by St. Louis until the 34th round in 2010, despite hitting .344 as a senior at USC. His lack of size may work against him in the eyes of many, but his toughness shouldn't be questioned. He earned a black belt in karate at age 16.
"I use it in cross-training during the offseason and I think it's helped my mental toughness," said the native of Riverside, Calif. "I've been into karate all my life. My dad is a sixth-degree black belt."
O'Neill was limited to 50 games last season, when he hit a combined .312 with Batavia of the short-season New York-Penn League and Quad Cities of the Class A Midwest League.
Moved up Class A Advanced, O'Neill hit .313 in April and has seen his average continue to go up from there. He finished a .382 May with a 5-for-5 game and has hit .397 since starting for the winning South and drawing two walks from the leadoff spot in the Florida State League All-Star Game on June 16.
"My knee was never 100 percent last year, and speed is a big part of my game," O'Neill said. "This season it is back to normal and I can do the things I need to do."
O'Neill has more than a half-dozen bunt hits and is a threat to beat out any infielder chopper. He still needs to perfect his jump on steal attempts, being thrown out seven times in 17 tries.
Although he has just one homer in his Minor League career, O'Neill is not just a singles hitter. He had 14 doubles and three triples in 78 games with Palm Beach, driving in 27 runs.
"I have some power, but I'm not going to swing for the fences in this league, with all the big ballparks," O'Neill said. "I know my role."
Jungmann on roll: Brevard County's Taylor Jungmann, taken by Milwaukee with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 Draft out of the University of Texas, won his fourth straight decision and hadn't lost since late May. The right-hander was 2-0 with a 2.63 ERA in four starts during June and 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his first two starts of July. Jungmann was 7-4 with a 3.35 ERA in 17 starts overall. He is the Brewers' No. 3 prospect and is No. 88 among MLB.com Top 100 Prospects.
Sanchez starts fast: Catcher Gary Sanchez was 6-for-20 with a double, two homers and three RBIs in his first five games for Tampa after being promoted from Class A Charleston. He was hitting .297 with 13 homers and 56 RBIs in 69 games for the Riverdogs. The native of the Dominican Republic signed a $3 million deal with the New York Yankees at age 16 and is their No. 3 prospect. He is No. 44 on the MLB.com Top 100 list.
Fernandez stays unbeaten: Jose Fernandez, promoted from Class A Greensboro after going 7-0 with a 1.59 ERA in 14 starts, was 1-0 with a 6.30 ERA after his first two outings for Jupiter. The right-hander, ranked as Miami's No. 3 prospect, allowed four hits and three runs over five innings in his second start after giving up five hits and four runs over five innings in his debut against the Mets. Fernandez, 19, was the 14th overall pick in the 2011 Draft.
Loosen ties up D-Jay: Matt Loosen struck out 10 over seven scoreless innings as Daytona beat Dunedin for just the second time in 12 meetings this season. The right-hander allowed three hits and walked one while improving his record to 7-3 and lowering his ERA to 2.85. Loosen has held opponents to a .183 average and has 71 strikeouts to 25 walks in 73 innings.