Arizona Diamondbacks prospect Peter O’Brien continued his power surge yesterday, hitting his 5th home run in 6 games, and his 6th overall through 14 games for the Triple-A Reno Aces.
The former Yankees’ backstop came over to Arizona in a trade deadline deal last year that sent Martin Prado to New York. With O’Brien being converted to the outfield, he has been able to play every day and focus on hitting, as opposed to the rigors of catching.
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The 24-year old has gradually progressed through the Minor Leagues, consistently improving with the bat as he has worked his way up the Minor League ladder. His calling card is definitely his power, hitting 34 homers in 2014, despite missing the final month of the season due to injury. His power display has been on a steep incline since his professional debut, hitting 10 homers in 2012, followed by 22 in 2013 and then the 34 last year.
Despite the numbers, he was ranked only #7 among Diamondbacks prospects this past off-season. If he can stay healthy for a full season, he could definitely continue to increase his power production.
The power is surely impressive with the Miami University graduate’s game, but he does have some weaknesses with his game. His batting averages have been solid enough throughout his career, but will probably never be a guy who hits for a high average. He could also definitely work on cutting down on his strikeouts and being a little more patient at the plate. The walks will definitely come with more experience, but it wouldn’t be all that surprising if the strikeouts continued to be a part of his game given his swing.
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The 6 foot 4, 235 pounder has some skills from catching that definitely translate into moving to the outfield. His plus arm strength will definitely be useful for right field in the big leagues, but he will be limited to playing there given his lack of speed and range. It still remains to be seen if O’Brien can stick in the outfield throughout a full season, but it was a good move for the Diamondbacks to try to maximize the youngsters offensive game.
The extreme power that the former second round pick has displayed has helped him gain momentum towards a potential big league call-up in 2015. Even if he continues to be one of the best hitters in the PCL, he will need more experience in the outfield before he is ready to help out in Arizona. I would expect him to spend the majority of the season in Triple-A and get called up sometime in the second half of the season. He is the type of player that could have an instant impact given his pop. Becoming a full time starter will depend on his contact rate and defense in the outfield moving forward.