Via George King -
Alex Rodriguez is gone for a year and Robinson Cano is in Seattle, but that doesn’t mean the Yankees don’t have a batter with the muscle to put on a power show during spring training batting practice.
Sure, it was the first day of BP, but the performance by neophyte catcher Pete O’Brien at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Saturday was impossible to ignore, since it reminded some of how easily Darryl Strawberry launched balls out of the park.
“The buzz today was all about Pete O’Brien,’’ hitting instructor Kevin Long said of the 6-foot-3, 215-pound Miami native who was taken in the second round of the 2012 draft out of the University of Miami.
O’Brien, 23, hit balls over the batter’s eye in center field and high off the new scoreboard in left-center.
“What puts his swing at a different level is the ease of it,’’ Long said of the right-handed hitting O’Brien, who swatted 22 homers and drove in 96 runs last season for Charleston (Single-A) and Tampa (Single-A) while batting .291 (130-for-447) in 119 games. He drew 43 walks and fanned 134 times. “He is not a guy winding up and jumping out front. He has a good, short compact swing. Obviously, he is very explosive.’’
Asked to compare O’Brien’s swing with former prospect Jesus Montero’s, Long said, “O’Brien’s is a much cleaner swing.’’
Since the Yankees are deep in organizational catching and O’Brien needs work behind the plate, there is a good chance he will be shifted to the outfield at some point, although he is scheduled to start this coming season as a catcher.
I had a chance to meet Pete O’Brien at the South Atlantic League All-Star game last year, albeit briefly. And, he seemed like a really nice guy. I hope he gets a chance to start the season at Trenton this season. I would look forward to seeing him in Double-A. I just hope that Kevin Long doesn’t mess him up any time soon.