FEATURE: Reno Aces slugger Peter O'Brien a rare talent
He ranks at or near the top of the leaderboard in the Pacific Coast League in batting average, extra base hits, home runs and RBI's.
But to get a real glimpse of just how good he can be, it's the sounds that tell the story - not the numbers. And the sound that the ball makes when O'Brien is behind the stick - is something special.
"There's no explanation for the sound, I can't really tell you what it is," said Aces Manager Phil Nevin. "It's a different one. It almost sounds like it's a tennis ball coming off the bat."
"It's almost like a gunshot," explained team radio broadcaster Ryan Radtke. "You hear balls off the bat in batting practice and it's just the sound of the ball making coming off the bat. When it comes off his bat you turn to look because there's that different sound. Was that a baseball? Or was that something else? It's just amazing."
At just 24 years old (he'll turn 25 in July), O'Brien could develop into one of baseball's next best home run hitters. Nevin, a veteran Major Leaguer with 12 years of experience, compared his power to that of two of the best sluggers over the past couple of decades.
"Mark McGwire was one and Mike Piazza is another one," Nevin said. "Those are sounds you don't forget when you're playing against somebody on the field and when you hear those things happen when you're standing around the cage as a coach - it catches your eye."
Radtke, who has been behind the mic for the team since the franchise arrived in Reno, offered another comparison.
"He's the only guy that I have ever compared to Wily Mo Pena," he said. "If you watch the balls that Peter O'Brien hit he has ridiculous power."
"It's really a lot of fun to watch."
The only thing stopping his progression to the majors is finding a place for him defensively. He's bounced around from catching, to the outfield, and both corner infield spots. But once he does find a spot, he will finally realize his dream of playing in the big leagues, something he's thought about since he started playing as a kid.
"I've know that and I've had that image in my head since I was two years old and started playing baseball," O'Brien said. "I feel great, and I'm extremely confident that I have what it takes to play at the next level."
Nevin has little doubts too.
"There's really no ceiling on what his potential is, what he future is going to be," he added. "You don't see bats like that come around very often. "
"It's a special, special bat."