Any fan of the New York Yankees knows there is little to be excited about when it comes to the organization's farm system. Heading into the season, with the exception of catcher Gary Sanchez, the minors offered very little promise for the future.
Well, Peter O'Brien is changing that, and he is making quite a name for himself in the process.
A third baseman, catcher and outfielder, O'Brien was a second-round pick in the 2012 first-year player draft by the Yankees. A native of Miami Gardens, Florida, he attended Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach before transferring to the University of Miami.
Now at age 23, O'Brien has begun his 2014 campaign with a bang. In 41 games spread across two levels, O'Brien has obliterated opposing pitching, belting 17 homers, 11 doubles and knocking in 35 runs while batting .316 with an OPS of 1.061. Simply put, the kid is on a tear.
O'Brien, a right-handed hitter, began the year playing High-A ball with the Tampa Yankees of the Florida State League. There, he started the year batting .321 with 10 homers and 19 RBI in the season's first 30 games before being promoted to Double-A Trenton. In his first 10 games with the Thunder, O'Brien has put the Eastern League on notice, crushing seven homers to go along with 16 RBI.
While the rise of O'Brien has certainly come from out of the blue, the power he has displayed has not. In just 211 career minor league games over parts of three seasons, O'Brien now has 49 home runs. He began making waves within the Yankees organization after an impressive 2013 season in which he hit .291 with 22 homers, 39 doubles and 96 RBI between the Single-A Charleston RiverDogs and Tampa.
The biggest obstacle in O'Brien's way is finding a true position. He did nothing but catch in the 36 games he played between the Rookie and Low-A levels in 2012. He first started playing third base last year for Tampa, doing so in 38 games. That experiment failed, as he made 18 errors. This year he began playing the outfield, predominantly right field, and has caught as well.
The problem with O'Brien being a catcher is Sanchez.
Sanchez is one of the best prospects in not only the Yankees' system but in all of baseball. That means he is going to be the one getting time behind the plate. As for the outfield, O'Brien is competing with a slew of other players, including Mason Williams, Tyler Austin and Slade Heathcott. Jason Cohen of SB Nation's Pinstripe Alley suggests a move to first base may be suitable for O'Brien, whose presence at Double-A has created quite a logjam in the lineup.
One other problem with O'Brien is that he does not walk. At all.
In 898 career plate appearances, he has reached base on a free pass just 55 times. He has walked just four times this year, all with Tampa. Additionally, he struck out 39 times.
Obviously, O'Brien is just a kid and is only days into being a minor leaguer at the Double-A level. He has a few things to work on. He needs to find a position in the field and stick with it. He also needs to improve his eye at the plate.
Still, a start such as this deserves some attention. It will be interesting to see if O'Brien can keep it up and how long it takes him to continue to climb his way up the minor league ladder and into the big leagues.
One thing is clear, however: Peter O'Brien can rake.
All stats were obtained via Baseball-Reference and are accurate as of the end of play on May 22, 2014.
Question or comments? Feel free to follow me on Twitter @GPhillips2727 to talk New York Yankees and Major League Baseball.