The Arizona Diamondbacks traded away two prominent players — in separate deals — ahead of Thursday’s deadline, and general manager Kevin Towers sounded very enthused Friday about the prospect, catcher Peter O’Brien, who was acquired in the second of those moves.
“He’s very similar to Goldy [Paul Goldschmidt] when you look at his numbers in the minor leagues. Not saying he’s going to be Goldy, but it’s power to all fields, it’s a guy that’s going to hit for an average and it’s a guy that’s always wanted to catch,” Towers told Arizona Sports 98.7 FM’s Burns and Gambo.
The 6-foot-3, 215-pound O’Brien was acquired from the New York Yankees in exchange for third baseman Martin Prado, who was in his second year with the Diamondbacks. O’Brien, 24, compiled 33 home runs and 70 RBI in 386 at-bats this season between Class-A-Plus and Double-A affiliates of the Yankees.
“It’s a power-bat catcher that we think’s a year-plus away from the big leagues to give us some protection with (Miguel Montero),” the general manager said, adding that the catcher will first report to the Double-A Mobile BayBears. “We just think this bat plays. It’s an impact bat.”
There has been some concern with O’Brien’s defense, however. Towers said the Yankees organization had a lot of depth at catcher, so O’Brien was often moved to other positions — such as first and third — to keep his big bat in the lineup. The D-backs GM, however, seemed optimistic that the young slugger can improve behind the plate.
“I (talked to) the kid yesterday: I said, ‘We really view you as a catcher. We have it in our powers to improve those catching skills, and we feel that if those catching skills improve, with your bat you’ve got a chance to be a frontline, everyday catcher,” he said.
Towers added that the organization may send O’Brien to the Arizona Fall League so he can get more practice at the position.
The GM then made another Goldschmidt comparison, saying the star first basemen came into the organization as a below-average defender but “turned himself into an above-average defender.” Towers said he hopes to see the same from the former Yankees prospect.
“Only time will tell if we’re correct on that,” he said. “But we think he can catch. We think he could play behind the plate. He’s got great instincts. He’s a gamer. He’s a guy that’s going to will himself to be able to be good at that position, and we hope we’re right.”