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O'Brien making powerful case for roster spot

MLB.com @FlannyMLB

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The talk of Royals camp through the first week of games has been the prodigious power of outfielder/designated hitter Peter O'Brien, who hit three mammoth home runs in eight at-bats entering Thursday's game against the Rockies.

But the serious question is: Can O'Brien and that raw power somehow crack the 25-man roster?

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- The talk of Royals camp through the first week of games has been the prodigious power of outfielder/designated hitter Peter O'Brien, who hit three mammoth home runs in eight at-bats entering Thursday's game against the Rockies.

But the serious question is: Can O'Brien and that raw power somehow crack the 25-man roster?

View Full Game Coverage

The Royals already have three starters in the outfield, and they presumably have a primary DH in Brandon Moss, though manager Ned Yost has indicated he will move Moss around to the outfield and to first base as well.

Hosmer gets real in regard to spring numbers

And that is why O'Brien, too, will work at different positions defensively.

"He can DH, he can play the outfield," Yost said. "We've got him working at first base, too, to increase his options and versatility defensively, just to see how he looks. I would imagine [if he makes the 25-man roster] it would be as an outfielder and a DH, of course.

"He's done OK in the outfield, but it's still too early to judge. But I don't think he's a guy who's a pigeon-holed hitter. He can throw and he can do things."

Video: KC@MIL: O'Brien crushes two-run moonshot to center

One thing perhaps working against O'Brien is that he has two Minor League options left. The Royals have plenty of time to be patient with O'Brien and develop that power.

Keeping O'Brien on the 25-man roster could deprive him of precious developmental at-bats.

"Our mindset is to put the best team together on the field, but still protect ourselves in the Minors," Yost said. "You get a guy who has an option and the other guy is about even, the guy with the option is probably going to go down. That all plays into it.

"But this kid still has tremendous power and is very smart. But he still has options where you can continue his development to get at-bats."

The other factor the Royals guard against is the sometimes illusion of Spring Training numbers, especially in the dry air of the Cactus League where balls often fly out of ballparks at a rapid pace.

"His power is definitely real," Yost said. "It's going to play anywhere.

"But yeah, you're looking at swings. You're looking at contact. You look at a lot of different things, not just numbers. If you're looking at numbers in Spring Training, especially for veteran guys, it's not valuable because they don't care about numbers down here. You can say, 'How can this guy ever get a hit?' Then, boom, the season starts and they're hitting.

"It's just very early and [O'Brien's] off to a good start."

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter @FlannyMLB.

Kansas City Royals, Peter O'Brien