D-backs newcomer O’Brien equipped with Goldy power

PHOENIX — Third base prospects Joey Gallo and Kris Bryant have created the kind of national buzz befitting a big-time power bat, and the Diamondbacks believe that new catcher Peter O’Brien has that kind of pop, too.

"He’s going to hit home runs in pretty much any park you put him in," D-backs general manager Kevin Towers said after obtaining O’Brien from the New York Yankees for infielder Martin Prado moments before nonwaiver trade deadline hit at 1 p.m. Thursday.

"He is probably one of the best offensive players in the minor leagues right now. He’s like (Mark) Trumbo. He’s like Goldy (Paul Goldschmidt). We think he is going to hit for an average, drive in runs. You have a chance to have a middle of the order catcher. Big offense."

O’Brien, who will report to Double-A Mobile, has 33 home runs in two levels this season. Only Texas prospect Gallo (37) and Cubs’ prospect Bryant (34) have more.

The D-backs also obtained outfielder Mitch Haniger and left-hander Anthony Bando from Milwaukee for Gerardo Parra, and Towers said he believes Haniger could get to the majors as early as next season. With Haniger (38) and O’Brien (94), the D-backs have four of the top 94 picks in the 2012 draft, along with their own selections of Stryker Trahan in the first round and shortstop Joe Munoz in the second. 

The D-backs moved Trahan, a high school catcher, to right field this season, and O’Brien has played first base and the outfield in addition to catching in his three seasons with the Yankees.

Some scouts believe O’Brien, 6-foot-5, 225 pounds, might have to move from behind the plate, but Towers said O’Brien will be used as a catcher. First base is blocked here by Goldschmidt.

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"O’Brien is the big, strong, physical catcher we were looking for," Towers said.

Miguel Montero, who has three years and $40 million remaining on the contract extension he signed two years ago, said he will be a willing mentor.

"Even though he is at my position, I am not scared about losing my job," Montero said. "I’m here to help him be the best he can be. I heard he’s got a good bat for a catcher, and I’ll try to help him be a better catcher."

Baseball America had this to say about O’Brien after the 2013 season: "He has good balance and the requisite arm strength to catch. At his size, though, O’Brien lacks agility and struggles to block balls in the dirt. Some scouts think he can hit enough to survive as a below-average receiver with inconstant throwing accuracy.

Haniger, 23, was rated the No. 3 prospect in the Brewers’ system by Baseball America entering the season and was hitting .255 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs at Double-A Huntsville. He hit .280 with an .834 OPS, four home runs and 24 RBIs in 25 games for Surprise of the prospect-heavy Arizona Fall League last year.

"Profiles as more of a corner outfielder, even though he has played center," Towers said.

"Defender with a plus arm, plus power, plus hitter. He is a corner outfielder we think could be a five- or six-hole hitter for us in the very near future."

The D-backs have Trumbo, Peralta, A.J. Pollock and Ender Inciarte ahead of him now.

Banda, a 10th-round pick in 2012, could be a middle-of-the-rotation starter if he stays on pace, Towers said. He was 6-6 with a 3.66 ERA at low-A Wisconsin this season. The D-backs took him in the 33rd round of the 2011 draft, but he went to San Jacinto junior college before signing the next year.

The minor league depth at third base helped the D-backs part with Prado. Double-A Mobile’s Jake Lamb and high-A Visalia’s Brandon Drury are two of the top position player prospects in the system, and some in the organization believe Lamb is not that far away. Lamb is hitting .318 with 35 doubles, 14 homers, 79 RBIs at Mobile, leading the league in RBI and doubles and second in OPS.

"He has a chance to be the MVP of the Southern league in a very tough hitter’s park," Towers said. "We think we’ll see him here at some point next year, and if he was ready, with Prado still being here, it would be tough to give him the at-bats.

"For us, this (Prado deal) was not only short term but long term. If it wasn’t for guys like Jake Lamb and Brandon Drury, who were think are real, real close … and we are excited about O’Brien."