O'Brien Wants To Get Ahead

O'Brien wants to get back into attack mode

Right-hander Mikey O'Brien had a solid season in 2012, posting a combined 3.87 ERA and allowing less hits than innings pitched between high-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton. Known for his consistency from year to year, he admits he wants to get back to being more consistent from inning to inning and that means getting ahead in the count more often.

"Overall I thought it was a really good year for me," he said. "I started out really well in Tampa and got the early promotion up to Trenton. I was just glad to get up there and get my feet wet in Double-A baseball.

"I just felt like it was a learning experience first off. I did well in my first couple of starts and had a couple of rough ones in there but that's just part of pitching, and I feel like I learned a lot from it."

He admits it is a step up in competition from the high-A level to Double-A and that such a transition comes with the realization that mistakes are not as easily forgiven as they once were at the lower levels.

"Hitters are a little bit better, the strike zone is a little bit smaller, and I just felt like I learned to pitch a lot better.

"I needed to be a lot more consistent keeping hitters off-balance and throw offspeed pitches when you're behind in the count. That's a big key to being successful against good hitters with good approaches."

The good news is he has gotten better with his secondary pitches over the years, especially with his changeup. His curveball was always solid and then he added a slider/cutter into the mix for the first full year last season.

"I like it a lot." he opined. "It's not a real big breaker. I try to think of it as a cutter and just work off of that feeling.

"I've always been told my four-seam fastball cuts a bit and I throw it the same exact way, and so my slider looks a lot like my four-seam and just cuts a bit more than my fastball. It throws hitters off-balance."

He was happy with all of his stuff actually, including a fastball that was topping out at 94-95 mph during the Eastern League playoffs. And he realizes he has shown he can be consistent overall each year. He does admit, however, that he could use some fine-tuning going forward.

"I'm saying it, I've walked way too many people the last year or two. Growing up pitching all of my life I hated walking people. It got under my skin like no other. That's the key for me I think, not falling behind guys.

"I'll have spurts out there where I can't find the strike zone for six or seven pitches. For me it's just being consistent each and every inning, not each and every outing; not falling behind guys early, getting guys on base and getting into trouble."

He had fourteen starts last year where he allowed three earned runs or less with the Thunder, but he also had five starts in Trenton where he surrendered four earned runs or more and that's where he wants to get better.

"I think that's what happened in a couple of those bad outings last year. I just couldn't find the zone, I'd lose focus, so that's what I really have to focus on this year; getting that first pitch, attack with the first pitch, and get ahead and work from there," he concluded.

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