Scouting Yankees Prospect #45: Mikey O'Brien

The Yankees drafted Mikey O'Brien in the 9th round of the 2008 MLB Draft out of Hidden Valley High School in Virginia. He followed up his breakout 2010 season with another solid showing between low-A Charleston and high-Tampa in 2011, proving to be one of the most consistent pitchers for the Yankees down on the farm.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Mikey O'Brien
Position: Pitcher
DOB: March 3, 1990
Height: 5'11"
Weight: 185
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

"I felt like it was a great year," he said. "Overall I feel like I improved in a lot of ways. It was definitely good to have that promotion mid-way through the season. Everything felt good. It was good year, I've just got to keep it going."

He went a combined 7-7 with a 3.16 ERA between stints with the Charleston RiverDogs and Tampa Yankees, allowing just a .235 opponents' batting average and striking out 99 batters in nearly 120 innings pitched in 2011 after posting a 2.08 ERA in Staten Island the year before.

"My offspeed in general, I got a lot more confident in them," he said of the reason for the improvement in recent years. "When I got to Tampa I started throwing a slider too.

"Having that extra pitch with a little sharper break to it will benefit me even more once I get it even better than it is. I just have to keep working with it."

While both the changeup and the newly added cutter/slider were big weapons for him, it is the development of his curveball specifically that has allowed him to take his game to the next level.

"The curveball for sure. It was pretty consistent all year. The changeup actually felt a lot better than it has in the past. I felt like that was a big improvement. I got a lot more confident with it and slowly could see it improving throughout the season.

"Of course I had some games where I didn't have a feel for it but that's the way pitching is. The curveball felt like it was there all season and the slider I definitely like and I want to keep throwing it."

More of a ground ball pitcher these days, O'Brien is hoping his slider, which he admits acts more like a cutter, can develop into another strikeout weapon going forward.

"I hope it will be," he said with a smile. "I got some strikeouts with it when I was in Tampa. I've just got keep working with it and get a tighter break with it. It's more of a cutter than it is a slider but as long as I keep that tight break with it I think it will help me a lot."

With his stuff and command seemingly in place already, O'Brien, a starter up to this point, is a little smaller in stature than most big league pitchers but he has shown the kind of overall game that could be a welcomed addition to a big league bullpen down the road.

"I just like going out there to pitch," he said of a possible role change. "I've always loved starting because that's what I've done my whole life but if I'm better suited being a relief pitcher, as long as I'm out there able to pitch that's the main thing. Whatever benefits my future."

Proving in 2011 that he has the ability to get A-ball hitters out, his immediate future is trying to do the same at the higher minor league levels. For now though, he just wants to keep the ball rolling.

"I guess just being consistent," he said of his immediate goals. "With the past two seasons that I've had I've been real pleased with myself. That's the main thing about this profession, being able to be consistent day in and day out.

"That's what I'm trying to do and what I need to do. I just need to keep improving all of my pitches; fastball location, curveball-slider-changeup locations too."

Year

Team

W-L

SV

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2011

Tampa

4-3

0

47.1

38

22

31

3.04

2011

Charleston

3-4

0

72.1

65

23

68

3.24

2010

Staten Island

6-2

0

60.2

49

18

38

2.08

2009

GCL Yankees

2-4

0

44.0

51

9

41

5.09

2008

GCL Yankees

1-0

0

18.0

26

4

14

5.00



Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider/Cutter, Changeup.

Fastball. O'Brien uses both a sinking two-seam fastball in the 88-90 mph range and a four-seam fastball that sits predominantly in the 90-92 mph range, and he attacks batters with good command of both. What he lacks in true power though with the fastball he more than makes for with an ability to paint the corner with his heater. He does have some hidden power, however, showing an ability to sit 93-94 mph in short relief stints and he reportedly hit as high as 97 mph back in high school.

Other Pitches. His best secondary offering is an above average curveball that he can locate for strikes consistently and it serves as his best strikeout weapon. It appeared to have plus potential in his younger days but now it's more reliable than truly swing-and-miss. Where he has improved dramatically in recent years is with the development of his changeup. Unable to consistently throw it for strikes, it is a lot more reliable now as a contact out-pitch to go along with his two-seam fastball. The addition of his slider, which is actually more of a cut-fastball that sweeps over the outside corner to right-handed batters, gives him another look.

Pitching: There's no real sizzle to O'Brien's game, but there is a whole lot of substance. He simply goes right after batters by pounding the lower-half of the strike zone with an array of five different pitches [including his two fastballs] to keep them off-balance and guessing at the plate. Very cerebral in his approach, he pitches very much in chess-like fashion and he is solid in the other areas of his game, including holding runners close and fielding his position well.

Projection. O'Brien has proven, and will most likely continue to prove, that he is a quality minor league starter who can have a lot of success. In some ways he can be a little Ian Kennedy-like with his combination of good command of a deep arsenal. However, there isn't much call for a sub-6-foot right-handed starting pitcher at the big league level who doesn't flash a true plus pitch, no matter how good the command is, especially when the fastball has proven to be a plus pitch in shorter stints. Therefore, while the ceiling still remains as a potential middle to back-end starting pitcher, he projects best as a solid middle reliever type who, if the fastball can get back up to the 95 mph range in the bullpen, has an outside chance of developing into a setup reliever type.

ETA. 2014. O'Brien's ETA has been and will continue to be ultimately determined by his role in the organization. For now he will most likely remain a starter, probably starting back in Tampa but should see significant time in Double-A Trenton in 2012.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: Mikey O'Brien
\r\nPosition: Pitcher
\r\nDOB: March 3, 1990
\r\nHeight: 5'11\"
\r\nWeight: 185
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\n\"I felt like it was a great year,\" he said. \"Overall I feel like I improved in a lot of ways. It was definitely good to have that promotion mid-way through the season. Everything felt good. It was good year, I've just got to keep it going.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe went a combined 7-7 with a 3.16 ERA between stints with the Charleston RiverDogs and Tampa Yankees, allowing just a .235 opponents' batting average and striking out 99 batters in nearly 120 innings pitched in 2011 after posting a 2.08 ERA in Staten Island the year before.
\r\n
\r\n\"My offspeed in general, I got a lot more confident in them,\" he said of the reason for the improvement in recent years. \"When I got to Tampa I started throwing a slider too.
\r\n
\r\n\"Having that extra pitch with a little sharper break to it will benefit me even more once I get it even better than it is. I just have to keep working with it.\"
\r\n
\r\nWhile both the changeup and the newly added cutter/slider were big weapons for him, it is the development of his curveball specifically that has allowed him to take his game to the next level.
\r\n
\r\n\"The curveball for sure. It was pretty consistent all year. The changeup actually felt a lot better than it has in the past. I felt like that was a big improvement. I got a lot more confident with it and slowly could see it improving throughout the season.
\r\n
\r\n\"Of course I had some games where I didn't have a feel for it but that's the way pitching is. The curveball felt like it was there all season and the slider I definitely like and I want to keep throwing it.\"
\r\n
\r\nMore of a ground ball pitcher these days, O'Brien is hoping his slider, which he admits acts more like a cutter, can develop into another strikeout weapon going forward.
\r\n
\r\n\"I hope it will be,\" he said with a smile. \"I got some strikeouts with it when I was in Tampa. I've just got keep working with it and get a tighter break with it. It's more of a cutter than it is a slider but as long as I keep that tight break with it I think it will help me a lot.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith his stuff and command seemingly in place already, O'Brien, a starter up to this point, is a little smaller in stature than most big league pitchers but he has shown the kind of overall game that could be a welcomed addition to a big league bullpen down the road.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just like going out there to pitch,\" he said of a possible role change. \"I've always loved starting because that's what I've done my whole life but if I'm better suited being a relief pitcher, as long as I'm out there able to pitch that's the main thing. Whatever benefits my future.\"
\r\n
\r\nProving in 2011 that he has the ability to get A-ball hitters out, his immediate future is trying to do the same at the higher minor league levels. For now though, he just wants to keep the ball rolling.
\r\n
\r\n\"I guess just being consistent,\" he said of his immediate goals. \"With the past two seasons that I've had I've been real pleased with myself. That's the main thing about this profession, being able to be consistent day in and day out.
\r\n
\r\n\"That's what I'm trying to do and what I need to do. I just need to keep improving all of my pitches; fastball location, curveball-slider-changeup locations too.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

\r\n Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n W-L

\r\n

\r\n SV

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n H

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

\r\n SO

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2011

\r\n

\r\n Tampa

\r\n

\r\n 4-3

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 47.1

\r\n

\r\n 38

\r\n

\r\n 22

\r\n

\r\n 31

\r\n

\r\n 3.04

\r\n

\r\n 2011

\r\n

\r\n Charleston

\r\n

\r\n 3-4

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 72.1

\r\n

\r\n 65

\r\n

\r\n 23

\r\n

\r\n 68

\r\n

\r\n 3.24

\r\n

\r\n 2010

\r\n

\r\n Staten Island

\r\n

\r\n 6-2

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 60.2

\r\n

\r\n 49

\r\n

\r\n 18

\r\n

\r\n 38

\r\n

\r\n 2.08

\r\n

\r\n 2009

\r\n

\r\n GCL Yankees

\r\n

\r\n 2-4

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 44.0

\r\n

\r\n 51

\r\n

\r\n 9

\r\n

\r\n 41

\r\n

\r\n 5.09

\r\n

\r\n 2008

\r\n

\r\n GCL Yankees

\r\n

\r\n 1-0

\r\n

0

\r\n

\r\n 18.0

\r\n

\r\n 26

\r\n

\r\n 4

\r\n

\r\n 14

\r\n

\r\n 5.00


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Slider/Cutter, Changeup.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. O'Brien uses both a sinking two-seam fastball in the 88-90 mph range and a four-seam fastball that sits predominantly in the 90-92 mph range, and he attacks batters with good command of both. What he lacks in true power though with the fastball he more than makes for with an ability to paint the corner with his heater. He does have some hidden power, however, showing an ability to sit 93-94 mph in short relief stints and he reportedly hit as high as 97 mph back in high school.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. His best secondary offering is an above average curveball that he can locate for strikes consistently and it serves as his best strikeout weapon. It appeared to have plus potential in his younger days but now it's more reliable than truly swing-and-miss. Where he has improved dramatically in recent years is with the development of his changeup. Unable to consistently throw it for strikes, it is a lot more reliable now as a contact out-pitch to go along with his two-seam fastball. The addition of his slider, which is actually more of a cut-fastball that sweeps over the outside corner to right-handed batters, gives him another look.
\r\n
\r\nPitching: There's no real sizzle to O'Brien's game, but there is a whole lot of substance. He simply goes right after batters by pounding the lower-half of the strike zone with an array of five different pitches [including his two fastballs] to keep them off-balance and guessing at the plate. Very cerebral in his approach, he pitches very much in chess-like fashion and he is solid in the other areas of his game, including holding runners close and fielding his position well.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. O'Brien has proven, and will most likely continue to prove, that he is a quality minor league starter who can have a lot of success. In some ways he can be a little Ian Kennedy-like with his combination of good command of a deep arsenal. However, there isn't much call for a sub-6-foot right-handed starting pitcher at the big league level who doesn't flash a true plus pitch, no matter how good the command is, especially when the fastball has proven to be a plus pitch in shorter stints. Therefore, while the ceiling still remains as a potential middle to back-end starting pitcher, he projects best as a solid middle reliever type who, if the fastball can get back up to the 95 mph range in the bullpen, has an outside chance of developing into a setup reliever type.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2014. O'Brien's ETA has been and will continue to be ultimately determined by his role in the organization. For now he will most likely remain a starter, probably starting back in Tampa but should see significant time in Double-A Trenton in 2012.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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