Resiliency paying off for Marlins’ Peter O’Brien

Peter O’Brien is living every young baseball fan’s dream by playing for the hometown Miami Marlins. 

O’Brien hit his first career home run at Marlins Park on Tuesday since being called up in September. The Marlins lost to the Washington Nationals 4-2 but every big swing encourages the Marlins in thinking that they have found a diamond in the local rough. 

“What’s been impressive, just talking to him and watching his at-bats is that he has a plan,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said, “and it’s like you can tell he sticks to what he wants to do and he has some feel of what the pitcher’s doing and he’s got a plan on what he wants to do with that.”

His path was opened for him once the Marlins traded Justin Bour to the Philadelphia Phillies for a pitching prospect in August, and first baseman Garrett Cooper and veteran infielder Martin Prado saw their seasons end in injury. 

The 28-year-old Cuban-American from Hialeah played college ball at Bethune-Cookman and finished with the University of Miami before getting drafted by the New York Yankees in the second round of the 2012 MLB Draft. 

O’Brien, known for his powerful bat, has gone from getting drafted by the Yankees to being managed by a Yankee legend. O’Brien was traded to Arizona and made his debut with the Diamondbacks in 2015. Getting back to the Major Leagues took more unwanted turns than trying to navigate around Miami Beach during construction. 

O’Brien was passed around like a hot potato last season. After a poor showing with the Diamondbacks in 2016 (.141, 5 HR, 9 RBI), O’Brien was traded to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher Sam Lewis. He began his season in Triple-A Omaha but after appearing in 27 games (.162), was designated for assignment in May 10 and claimed by the Cincinnati Reds on May 16. After going 4-for-20 in just five games with Triple-A Louisville, he was once again DFA’d and claimed by the Texas Rangers in May 27. He went a combined 10-for-61 with Triple-A Round Rock and Double-A Frisco before being claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Dodgers in June 18 and finishing his season batting .219 with nine home runs and 26 RBI for Double-A Tulsa. 

Despite the kind of season he had in 2017, he still believed that a return to the big leagues was possible. 

“I thought so,” O’Brien said. “I always believed. I know baseball’s a game of ups and downs, highs and lows. You’re going to go through them a lot. I think it’s how you handle the adversity and what you do coming back from that.”

O’Brien came back with a vengeance this season and hit 30 home runs in 110 minor-league games this year, including 10 during his 36 games with the New Orleans Baby Cakes. The Marlins acquired him in a cash trade with the Dodgers early in the year and it seems like they are getting a good return on their investment.

“I think the biggest thing is that I feel ready,” O’Brien said. “I prepared myself for this and that’s what the last couple years have taught me.” 


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