Throughout the minor league season, the prospect staff here at Fake Teams will look at a number of prospects for your fantasy and dynasty teams. Some will be prospects that you'll see this year in the majors, while others are interesting targets in longer term formats. Up today is a prospect who has been a surprise name at the top of the home run leader boards in the minors, Yankees' prospect Peter O'Brien.
Weight: 215 lbs.
On 40-Man Roster: No
Protect After: 2016 Season
DOB: 7/15/1990 (Age 23 Season)
O'Brien went undrafted out of high school, and attended Bethune Cookman College for his first three seasons. He was drafted in the 3rd round by the Rockies in 2011, but did not sign with the team at that time. He transferred to Miami for his senior season, and was drafted by the Yankees in the 2nd round in 2012. He signed for a bonus just under half a million dollars, and spent most of his first professional season with Staten Island in the NY-Penn League. O'Brien hit just .212 in 52 games, but added 10 home runs to the stat sheet.
He split his time in 2013, starting the year in Low-A Charleston and moving up to High-A Tampa after just 53 games. On the year, he hit .291/.350/.544 with 23 home runs, 91 runs batted in, and 78 runs scored, while playing catcher and third base primarily. He returned to Tampa this year, but after 30 games was moved up to AA Trenton. Through 50 games, O'Brien has 20 home runs to go with a .297 batting average between the two levels, playing mostly catcher and some in the outfield.
The Scouting Report
Hit (AVG): While O'Brien has been hitting for a high average at some of his stops, he's not expected to provide a high batting average as he moves up in the organization. There are concerns about his ability to make consistent contact, striking out at least 21% of his at bats at every stop so far, but has been better this year than in previous seasons. There are also questions about his approach at the plate, so it will be interesting to see if he can continue this level of performance this year.
Power (HR, RBI): The power will be O'Brien's calling card as he continues to develop. He has potentially elite power potential, but when paired with the questions about his hit tool, may not play to its' full potential. If everything clicks, he could hit 30 home runs a season, but the odds of that are extremely low. More likely, he could provide 15-20 home runs on a regular basis.
Speed (R, SB): O'Brien is not considered a good runner, and is unlikely to provide more than a token stolen base or two, if that. I wouldn't bet on even that, as he has just 2 caught stealings to his name as a professional.
Defense: One of the biggest questions for O'Brien is where he will play on the diamond. He has been catching primarily since signing with the Yankees, but is considered a below-average defender at the position and is not expected to profile there long-term. The team tried him at third base as well, but isn't expected to profile there either. He seems destined to be either a left fielder or a first baseman down the line, essentially somewhere they can put him where he won't kill you on defense.
When Could He Arrive in the Majors?
O'Brien could be up in the majors by the end of 2015, assuming he continues to hit like he has this year.
What Can He Do for Your Fantasy Team?
I could see him hitting in the .240-.250 range with 20+ home runs if he was given a full season of playing time, but that remains a giganticly large question given his defensive liabilities.
In the best case scenario, you're probably looking at a .240-.250 hitting catcher with 20+ home runs if he gets everyday playing time. The key for him is whether he does get that playing time, and whether it happens behind the plate enough to stay qualified at the position consistently. If he only ends up with 1B or OF eligibility, he becomes essentially an AL-only play most likely. We should learn more about him as the season progresses, and whether he can keep the performance up at AA for the rest of the year.