After struggling to get on track in his pro debut last summer, Peter O'Brien is taking the South Atlantic League by storm.
The Yankees prospect slugged a three-run homer and scored three times Wednesday night to power Class A Charleston to its sixth straight win, a 6-3 triumph over visiting Savannah.
O'Brien gave the River Dogs an early lead, slugging his fifth homer of the season in the first inning to stretch his RBI streak to six games. The University of Miami product walked and scored on Yeicok Calderon's double in the third and walked and scored again on Dante Bichette's double in the fifth.
"I'm just trying to get into good counts and see the ball up and put a good swing on it," said O'Brien, a 2012 second-round Draft pick. "I'm not sure what the count was [on the home run]. I know I had two strikes, it was a fastball in and I put some good barrel on it and hit it out to left-center."
During his streak, O'Brien is 10-for-21 with two homers and 10 RBIs. It's part of a red-hot May, during which he's batting .400 with a 1.062 OPS in 12 games.
"Really, it's just trying to get into good counts," the 22-year-old catcher said. "I'm trying to look for my pitch and see the ball up, just take what they give me and it's been working good so far."
O'Brien made his Minor League debut last season, playing four games in the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League before moving up to the short-season New York-Penn League. With Staten Island, he hit .202 with 10 homers and 32 RBIs in 48 games. He spent the offseason working out to prepare for his first full season, and the work has paid off. The Florida native ranks third in the South Atlantic League with 13 doubles, fourth with a .593 slugging percentage, fifth with a .970 OPS and sixth with a .333 batting average.
"I feel great. I really tried to get my body ready in the offseason, not just strength-wise but flexibility-wise," O'Brien said. "I think that's been helping me out. I've been coming to the park early and getting my exercise in.
"My approach this year, not that I didn't have it last year, I'm just trying to get into counts. The biggest thing is not to get myself out, knowing what I can handle and what I can't."
Bichette, the Yankees' No. 9 prospect, finished 2-for-4 with an RBI while batting behind O'Brien, the RiverDogs' cleanup man.
"It's great, I see a lot of pitches to hit," O'Brien said of hitting in front of Bichette. "He's a big power guy, he's a big-time prospect and he puts me in a good situation, especially with [Gregory] Bird, Cito [Culver] and Jake Cave in front of me, setting the table."
Cave was 4-for-5 with a run scored to raise his average to .316.
Cesar Vargas allowed a run on four hits over 3 1/3 innings but did not figure in the decision for Charleston. Brett Gerritse improved to 4-2 after tossing 2 2/3 innings of perfect relief. Derek Vanadore earned his first save, despite yielding two runs on four hits over the final three frames.