It’s understandable that Peter O’Brien’s Major League Baseball debut was barely noticed.
It happened out West — too late for most East Coast baseball fans — and it also occurred on a solemn anniversary date in American history, Sept. 11.
O’Brien came in as a pinch-hitter for the host Arizona Diamondbacks and delivered an RBI single to help beat the Los Angeles Dodgers. The next day, O’Brien did it again — one at-bat, one RBI single.
“I’m excited for him,” University of Miami coach Jim Morris said. “He can hit, and he can hit with power. And when you can do that, they will find a place for you.”
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O’Brien’s arrival in the majors culminated a circuitous path for the former Miami Braddock High standout.
Not highly regarded out of high school, O’Brien signed with Bethune-Cookman, where he put up monster numbers against lesser competition.
He then transferred to Miami, where he proved himself as an All-ACC player. The New York Yankees drafted him in the second round in 2012 but traded him two years later for third baseman Martin Prado, who now plays with the Marlins.
The Yankees might have been a better fit for O’Brien because they play in the American League with the designated hitter. O’Brien, a 6-4, 235-pounder, has struggled to find a defensive position, playing catcher and left field without any great distinction.
There was even some controversy when reports circulated that O’Brien no longer wanted to catch, and Arizona general manager Dave Stewart didn’t like that decision being made by a player as opposed to management.
Offensively, though, O’Brien is “a physical specimen,” as Morris puts it. This year at Triple A Reno, O’Brien produced 35 doubles, nine triples, 26 homers and 107 RBI in 131 games.
He struggled with his throwing behind the plate, however, and Arizona is loaded with outfielders. Perhaps a trade can be worked out to an American League team or maybe something can be worked out where he gets a legit shot in Arizona.
Either way, though, he’s at least made the majors.
“He’s a great kid,” Morris said. “I’m really happy for him because he’s worked so hard.”
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