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Roller promoted; O’Brien joining Thunder

Kyle Roller's hot start has earned him a shot to break into Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's lineup.
Kyle Roller's hot start has earned him a shot to break into Scranton/Wilkes-Barre's lineup.
Trenton Thunder/

TRENTON, NJ – Eastern League home run leader Kyle Roller is moving forward in his quest to make the major leagues. The 26-year-old first baseman was promoted on Thursday night after 21 games with the Trenton Thunder, and will now join the New York Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders.

Roller had been on a tear of late, hitting .361 in his last ten games and producing a .385 batting average overall. The 6-foot-1, 250-pound first baseman had stroked nine home runs for Trenton this season while driving in 23 runners. It was previously speculated that Roller would join the RailRiders after Ronnier Mustelier was released from his contract earlier this week.

Moving Roller became necessary after it was revealed via Twitter reports that top hitting prospect Peter O’Brien was leaving the Sunshine State to join the Thunder, likely in time for Friday’s tilt with the Reading Fightin’ Phils. O’Brien has torn up the Florida State League this season, producing a .321/.353/.688 batting line with the Tampa Yankees. His power has been his best asset at this point, as his 10 home runs leads the Florida State League.

Despite his power bat, O’Brien’s development has not come without a few bumps in the road. After the University of Miami product was selected in the second round of the 2012 Amateur Draft, he was given a chance to succeed behind the plate in Rookie ball. However, with prospects like Gary Sanchez, John Ryan Murphy, and Austin Romine well ahead of him in the pecking order, it became clear the organization would have to find other ways to get his bat in the line-up.

After destroying South Atlantic League pitching in the early part of 2013, the Yankees promoted O’Brien to Tampa, where they gave him a chance to play third base. The experiment ended horribly, with the converted catcher making 18 errors in just 38 games at the position. This season, O’Brien has primarily been back behind the plate, though he has appeared in six games in right field. It is believed he will see time at a variety of positions in Trenton, including catcher, both corner infield spots, right field, and designated hitter in Trenton.