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Yankees Deal Thunder All-Star O’Brien to Arizona

by Matt Kardos | Posted on Thursday, July 31st, 2014

It isn’t often that a 24-year old power-hitting prospect with 33 home runs before August gets traded by an organization that lacks power throughout their farm system. But, that is exactly what the Yankees did prior to Thursday afternoons trade deadline by sending Thunder All-Star catcher/first baseman Peter O’Brien to the Arizona Diamondbacks in exchange for versatile veteran, Martin Prado.

Peter O'Brien is given a pat on the butt by Thunder Hitting Coach Marcus Thames as he departs from the team in Portland after being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Photo by: Trenton Thunder

Peter O’Brien is given a pat on the butt by Thunder Hitting Coach Marcus Thames as he departs from the team in Portland after being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks. Photo by: Trenton Thunder

On the heels of blasting two homers on Wednesday afternoon, O’Brien boarded the bus with his Thunder teammates and took the seven-hour bus ride up to Portland where Trenton was slated to open a four-game set with the Sea Dogs on Thursday. When news of the trade came down, O’Brien was already on the field and in uniform taking batting practice before he was pulled aside by the coaching staff to inform him that he was no longer property of the Yankees.

The move comes as a surprise but not a shock; despite his  33 homers between High-A Tampa and Trenton, O’Brien has hit just .267 and has struck-out in 27% of his at-bats this season. Many scouts believe that the hole in his swing and his approach at the plate will not translate well to the big leagues.

The most interesting part of the deal comes from a defensive standpoint; O’Brien’s ability as an everyday catcher is suspect and has instead been used as Trenton’s primary first baseman for the last month of the season. Arizona already has a young, power-hitting first baseman in Paul Goldschmidt, who they have locked under team control until 2019. In reading the tea leaves, the Diamondbacks must have a lot more confidence in O’Brien behind the plate than the team who has developed him for the last three seasons.

Thunder skipper Tony Franklin said of the trade deadline on Tuesday night, “It would be exciting if somebody from here was in a major deal and went to the big leagues in a year or two and became a superstar.”

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