We sat down with Charleston RiverDogs broadcaster Danny Reed for an extensive Q&A session. In part…
O'Brien Still Focusing On The Change
Tampa pitching coach, Jeff Ware, added that he was missing a key pitch to his arsenal so that added a bit more to his first-start troubles.
"He didn't have a feel for his changeup very good," Ware said. "So basically he was out there just pitching with two pitches which is kinda tough to do."
His second start though, went a little more according to plan. On July 1, O'Brien took the mound against Daytona and went five innings again, this time though giving up just two runs on four hits a pair of walks. This success was a product of not elevating the ball and pitching to contact. He had a better final line even though he struck out just one in the start.
"I think he's gonna be more of a ground ball pitcher," coach Ware said. "He's got a good two-seam sinker, so he'll be able to use that and get a lot of ground balls."
Going into O'Brien's repertoire is interesting and exciting.
"He's got tremendous stuff," Coach Ware said. "He's got three good pitches he can throw for strikes."
His effective sinker induces ground balls and stands as a fastball that can be thrown behind in counts, says Ware, because even when hitters are looking to drive the ball, the movement on the pitch is going to send it into the ground.
His curveball is his out-pitch. In Staten Island last year, O'Brian pitches to a 6-2 record and a 2.08 ERA. He credits this success to the emergence of his curveball as an effective contrast to the sinker.
The third pitch is a changeup. This is the work still in progress.
"Just really still working on the changeup," O'Brien said before his third start on Wednesday. "It's really good some days and some days I just don't have a feel for it at all. I just gotta keep working with it and try to find the right consistency with it."
Last season, although O'Brian dominated, he faded at the end of the year he said, which is something he wants to avoid at all costs this season.
"Just stay healthy is the main thing," O'Brien said in reference to his goals. "With a couple weeks left in mid-August, my arm started bothering me a little bit but luckily it wasn't anything serious. That's the main thing, just to stay healthy and to keep pitching and to get out there every fifth day throwing a lot of strikes."
After being promoted to Tampa, just two months into his stay in Charleston, the 21-year-old right-hander said it's nice to keep moving up. He's excited to get more acclimated to the team and work harder with the coaches.
"I wasn't really expecting it," O'Brien said of the promotion. "I just kinda went from start to start just doing what I can for whatever team I'm pitching for. Just getting ready for that game.
"It was kinda a surprise but it was definitely a good surprise."
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