Prospect Park: Peter O’Brien

Peter O'BrienThe Basics:

Name: Peter O’Brien
Position: C, 3B
Handedness: Bats and throws right handed
Age: 22
Draft: 2nd round in the 2012 MLB draft.
Size: 6-foot-3, 215-pounds
Best Tool: Power
BBDP Rank: 15

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Drafted out of the University of Miami in the second round, expectations were high for Peter O’Brien going into the 2012 season. O’Brien didn’t quite live up to expectations his first season, although the power bat was as advertised. Recovering from a wrist fracture, O’Brien hit a paltry .212/.256/.401/.656. He still managed to hit 10 homeruns in just 52 games though, and those in the know were aware that he was not physically at his best. Experts close to the situation expected a breakout season in 2013.

A breakout season is exactly what they got. O’Brien went straight to the full-season leagues in 2013 and hit a combined .291/.350/.544/.893 with 22 homeruns, 96 RBI, 39 doubles, and four triples between Low-A and High-A. The only blemish on his otherwise fantastic season was his 134 strikeouts in just 119 games. There was also a dip in his production when he moved up to High-A. Regardless of that, his statistics projected over a 150 game season are pretty impressive.

The Tools:

Power is the name of the game for Peter O’Brien. It was the reason he got drafted so high, and it will be the reason he makes the majors some day if he is lucky enough to get that far. He puts on impressive displays in batting practice day after day, and has consistently put up good power numbers even when he was in college. Given the premium value put on right handed power in the majors, his value is likely much higher than he’s getting credit for right now.

Other than his power with the bat, O’Brien also has a cannon for an arm. The Yankees have tried him at catcher and third base, and don’t be surprised if he gets some time in right field as well. Scouts say he is just nimble enough to possibly handle the position, and the arm would be plus in right field. Being realistic though, defensively it would be a coup if he was able to be an average defender at any position. He could be an Evan Gattis type who contributes by being versatile on defense, and hitting for power offensively.

Behind the dish O’Brien has some work to do, but he flashes some serious potential. His arm plays up at catcher, but as a physically large man he has more difficulty with movement behind he dish. There are times, however, when he shows Matt Wieters-like ability with framing pitches. It will be hard for him to stick long term as a catcher, but he should be able to carve out a role as at least a part time catcher.

At third base he’s a bit more raw since he is brand new at the position. He had quite a few throwing errors this season because he failed to harness the flamethrower he has hanging from his right shoulder. In due time, he projects to be average or above average at the position depending how much time he spends there.

Offensively he showed himself to be an excellent line drive and power hitter this season. His main flaw is the strikeouts he piled up this season. He is a patient hitter though and had a respectable .350 OBP in 2013. A major goal for him going forward has to be to limit the strikeouts more. He’s still relatively young so it’s not too late for him to improve.

Ceiling/Floor:

O’Brien’s ceiling is an all-star catcher. If he can become an average defensive catcher and hit the way he does he will get there. His floor will pinch-hitter bench player who can play multiple positions.

The likelihood of reaching his ceiling is low, mainly because he’s unlikely to stick at catcher. There’s a good chance he could be an above average third baseman who hits for power though. Overall his chances of making it to the majors are pretty good relatively speaking.

2014 Outlook:

Peter O’Brien will likely start the season at High-A Tampa again, although it’s possible he’ll be in Double-A. If things go well for him in High-A, he’ll be in Trenton pretty rapidly. The only problem with that is Gary Sanchez, who will take most of his reps away at catcher. With his new position though, he should also be able to get reps at third, and possibly even first base. At bats will never be hard to come by for him with the way he is capable of hitting the ball.

At his current rate he could be in Triple-A by 2015, and from there the majors are only a phone call away.

Overall O’Brien is a useful player to have in the system. Long term he could be a bruiser in the MLB if things break right, but college players like him often tail off as they get closer to the majors. Only time with tell with O’Brien, but he certainly has the power and talent to make it if he’s able to figure a few things out.

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