Peter O’Brien has changed area codes way too often during his baseball career.
The former University of Miami and Bethune Cookman College star has played in only 36 major-league games in his six years playing professional baseball and knows painfully well what it’s like to be traded and cut.
But after signing with his hometown franchise earlier this month, O’Brien is trying make his way back home and back to the majors at the same time.
O’Brien, who grew up in Hialeah and graduated from G. Holmes Braddock High in Miami, was acquired by the Marlins in a minor-league trade with the Dodgers on June 2nd and sent to play for their Double A affiliate in Jacksonville.
It took only a few days for O’Brien to start making an impression.
O’Brien, who has been regarded for his home run hitting power ever since his college days, homered in six consecutive games tying a Southern League record set back in 1996 by former Marlins’ first baseman Derrek Lee when he played for the Memphis Chicks, a Double A affiliate of the San Diego Padres.
O’Brien hit seven over that span for the Jumbo Shrimp.
For O’Brien, who hasn’t been in the majors since his brief stint with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2016, he hopes joining his hometown franchise could give him a second chance to jump start his career.
“I feel really happy to be here and especially now,” O’Brien said. “Moving around happens to some guys in baseball, but I’m really thankful for where I am right now and how everything has fallen into place.”
The Marlins are the seventh organization that O’Brien has been a part of since the Yankees selected him in the second round of the 2012 draft. Before that he was an all-ACC catcher/outfielder for the Hurricanes.
The Yankees drafted O’Brien after the Rockies chose him in the third round out of high school. After two years in the Yankees’ farm system, O’Brien was traded to the Diamondbacks for Martin Prado.
O’Brien broke in with the D’Backs in 2015 and played a combined 36 games over two seasons. O’Brien hit six home runs but batted only .176, striking out 32 times in 74 at-bats.
But O’Brien’s power stroke at the plate has kept teams interested.
O’Brien, 27, has hit 145 career home runs in the minors including 34 in 2014, when he caught the attention of Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson, while playing Single A and Double A ball in the Yankees organization.
“I think it’s just being a huge routine guy,” O’Brien said. “Sticking with that is going to keep me consistent every day and I attribute everything to that and sticking with my plan. I just want to go up there and have quality at-bats.”
Still, the constant moving has been frustrating at times for O’Brien.
He credits his wife, Jordan, a speech pathologist who works in Plantation as well as his father, Terry, his mother, Mercy and his younger brother Patrick, for supporting him through the most tumultuous times.
O’Brien met his wife, who works in Plantation, while he was attending Bethune Cookman and she was studying at the University of Florida.
O’Brien, who is now playing first base and outfield for Jacksonville, is hoping his family can see more of his games now that he’s playing closer to home.
And perhaps one day in the near future O’Brien would love to earn a chance to play in Miami for the Marlins.
“The biggest thing for me has been to keep pushing and doing what you can to make every day a great day,” O’Brien said. “She went through all the moves that I went through and she’s been there for me the whole way.”