By: Matthew Kardos
(Trenton) - New York Yankees catching prospect Peter O'Brien opened the 2014 campaign with High-A Tampa and exhibited power that has garnered immense attention throughout all of baseball. The 23-year old slugger blasted 10 homers in 30 games with Tampa to lead all of the Florida State League.
His torrid start earned him a well deserved promotion to Double-A where he has not skipped a beat with the Thunder. In just nine games with Trenton, O'Brien has already slugged six home runs and has put the Eastern League on notice.
"I've never had a player come up and hit for power like he has in my eight seasons," said Thunder Manager Tony Franklin. "When you see Pete hit a baseball, you realize that he is a little different than everyone else.
Franklin added, "This guy has got easy power, he's been pretty impressive and it is easy to see that he has got something special about him."
O'Brien was gracious enough to answer a few questions about his promotion to Double-A and his blazing start to the 2014 season. O'Brien and his 16 homers trail only Rangers prospect Joey Gallo for the overall MiLB lead with 18.
Matt Kardos:: What is the biggest difference that you have seen in the Eastern League pitching as compared to the Florida State League?
Peter O'Brien: I think at the lower levels, you get maybe two or three good pitches to hit per at-bat; the more that you move up, the less that you can afford to miss your pitch. I think that is where approach comes in. it is all about executing what you do in the cage out on the field.
MK:Is it tough to not know where you're going to be playing everyday in the field; trying to learn both catching and the outfield defensively while still having to produce at the plate?
PO:I try not to think about all of those things when I get to the ballpark. I try to focus on what I am good at and where I need to be getting better. Right now, I am focused on catching and a little bit of right field. During BP, I will shag my balls in the outfield but right now, my primary focus is being a better catcher.
MK: How helpful is it to have a player like Gary Sanchez here in Trenton with you? Both of you are similar types of players with similar ceilings while learning the same position, how much does help ease your comfort level here?
PO: It's good to have him. He was up here before I got here but we both help each other out and give each other pointers on certain things. He will give me some advice about pitchers that he has already faced and things like that, so it helps in that respect.
MK: Have pitchers been attacking you any differently as you continue to make a name for yourself in the EL?
PO:I haven't really noticed a difference in that respect. I think I have been getting attacked the same way for the whole year. I've seen a few changes here and there, but I think I have made adjustments to theirs and that is what I keep striving to do.