Consistency Key to Success for SI Yanks’ O’Brien

I love it, I really do,” that is how right-handed pitcher Mikey O’Brien responded when asked if he is enjoying the 2010 season.  “Especially being a part of the Yankees organization and playing in New York,” he added.

The New York Yankees drafted O’Brien in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft out of Hidden Valley, HS in Roanoke Virginia.  Since signing the young righty made his professional debut down in Tampa with the Gulf Coast League Yankees.

In 2009 it looked like he was going to be in the rotation for the Gulf Coast Yankees at the beginning of the season but a broken hand pushed back his development.  “I was hoping to be in the starting rotation this June,” said O’Brien last June, “but I broke a bone in my pitching hand in a game and I won’t start throwing again until June [2009]

After two seasons in the Gulf Coast League, putting together a record of 3 and 5 in 17 games Mikey O’Brien was promoted to Staten Island for the start of the 2010 Staten Island Yankees season and took his spot in the Baby Bombers rotation.

On June 20, 2010 O’Brien made his Staten Island Yankees debut starting the third game of the season against the rival Brooklyn Cyclones.  After coming off of two consecutive loses to the Cyclones O’Brien was set to give the Yankees their first victory.  That he did, throwing 81 pitches in seven innings allowing just an unearned run on two hits and a walk.  “I was just keeping everything down in the strike zone.  I mean that is the main key and what I always try to do and keep it down and get ahead in the count and throw strikes,” he said after the game.

Mikey O'Brien (Robert M Pimpsner/Gotham Baseball)

That was the start of a strong start of the season for the 20-year old that has put together strong outings in almost every one of his starts.  In his second game of the season the right-hander went six innings allowing just an earned run on seven hits against Aberdeen.  He then faced off against Aberdeen once again in Aberdeen again allowing just one earned run on five hits in five and a third innings and striking out five batters.

O’Brien faced off against the Auburn Doubleday’s in Auburn in his fourth start of the season and allowed two runs over six innings on six hits and a walk.  His fifth start of the season was his worst, allowing three runs on four hits and three walks across five innings against the Batavia Muckdogs.  Mikey rebounded in his sixth start throwing six shutout innings allowing four hits and two walks while striking out six batters when he and the Yankees traveled to Jamestown to face the Jammers.

Mikey O'Brien (Robert M Pimpsner/Gotham Baseball)

Mikey had is only real bad game of the year against the Hudson Valley Renegades on July 22 going just four innings and allowing four runs, three earned, on three hits and five walks.  “It’s going to happen to me sometimes,” he said talking about that start, “All my stuff have been all this year almost every outing except for that start.”  The struggling ended there as in his next start on July 28 he pitched six shutout innings against the Connecticut Tigers allowing four hits and two walks.

The young right-hander is a four-pitch pitcher possessing a four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball to go along with his changeup and curveball.  “I am a lot more confident in all my pitches [the year],” he said.  “That’s the big key in pitching is having confidence.  After my first outing here I threw really well I had a bunch of confidence and it has carried over in every start.

I try to find a rhythm out there in the first or second inning and keep it going throughout the game.  Hitting is all about timing and pitching is about disrupting that timing.  I try to get in my rhythm and not let them get in their own

The biggest adjustment this year for O’Brien has been consistency.  “Being consistent with everything [is my goal],” he said, “I go out there and try to keep all my pitches down even my fast ball and off-speed pitches.

However that is not the only adjustment he had to make.  Before this season he has only pitched in front of a handful of people in the Gulf Coast League, which is much different than the thousands on the north shore of Staten Island.   “Getting to play in front of fans and not letting it get to you [has been an adjustment]”.

As we have past the half-way point in the season Mikey O’Brien has been the true ace of the Staten Island Yankees rotation and looks to continue the success he has achieved.

Robert M. Pimpsner

Robert joins Gotham Baseball after spending 7 1/2 years as the owner and senior writer for providing independent coverage of the Staten Island Yankees and their alumni for thousands of visitors. In July of 2009 he joined Gotham Baseball, bringing his coverage of the Baby Bombers.

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