Prospect O’Brien will remain in outfield for now
SAN DIEGO — Peter O’Brien is off to a strong offensive start while playing left field at Triple-A Reno, and the Diamondbacks plan to leave him there or at first base for the time being.
Catching remains a career option, but the D-backs want to get O’Brien a little further removed from the throwing issues that cropped up late in spring training before putting him back behind the plate.
The idea, as D-backs manager Chip Hale said, "is just to kind clear his head, let him get off to a good offensive start."
That O’Brien has done. "He has been killing it offensively," Hale said.
O’Brien homered in the first at-bat of his Triple-A career on the first day of the season April 9 and had his first career four-hit game Sunday. He had two doubles, a homer and four RBI in his first six games, and his nine hits were one short of the Pacific Coast League leaders.
O’Brien hit 39 homers in four stops last season, and the D-backs believe he made great strides behind the plate last fall and this spring. They but also are conscious of the weight the throwing issue may have carried, and do not want it to compromise his production.
"Even just the catching part of it … now he gets to get out there and have his at-bats. Instead of sitting on the bench, he can play every day this way," Hale said. "He had come a long way catching and gaining the trust of the pitchers. I really feel at some point there could be a chance to get back there again and be a quick remake."
O’Brien will play some first base as well, Hale said, where he played about half the time in most recent Arizona Fall League season.
Whatever his position, his bat will play a role. "If he hits, he’ll find a way here," Hale said.