Aaron Sabato has forearms built for a lumberjack. He is incredibly strong and is a masher that can launch balls as far as anyone in the college game. Sabato is limited to first base defensively so he will have to hit but it looks like he can hit and hit for power.
Sabato steps slightly open when he strides but he doesn’t pull off the ball like a lot of power guys tend to do. Sabato can cover the outside corner. With his immense strength, Sabato can hit the ball for power the other way. When a pitcher tries to beat him with a fastball in, his hands are so quick that he easily gets to the ball keeping it fair and usually for extra bases. Sabato doesn’t tend to over swing.
Sabato has had some issues with strikeouts in the past and that will most likely continue as he moves forward. The issue becomes the century-long debate of should a guy ease up on his swing to hit for more average or should he keep the full swing so that if he makes contact he can create runs. The thing is, Sabato is a draft eligible sophomore. Many of those strikeouts happened when he was a freshman still adapting to the college game. Optimistic teams will give Sabato a pass on the strikeouts from his freshman year because he was learning the ACC while pessimistic teams will see those as a long term problem.
It is important to remember 2019 first round pick Michael Busch was also from North Carolina. Sabato’s teammate was selected 31st overall by the Dodgers. What’s important to remember is that Busch did not lead the team in any of the triple slash lines or home runs. Aaron Sabato led the Tar Heels in all those categories.
Sabato had a slow start to his freshman season and was doing the same his sophomore season. However, he had homered in five of his last six games and was just hitting a huge hot streak when the season was canceled. Sabato’s .292 average was south of what it seemed it would be by the end of the season as he and the weather warmed up. Sabato ended up hitting .292/.478/.708. A lot of teams pitched around him and he got impatient at times chasing 3-0 pitches. Even though Sabato had 22 walks to only 16 strikeouts, he will have to be patient in pro ball and continue to take those walks.
The thing that sets Sabato apart from other power hitters is his intrinsic motivation. Sabato has a huge chip on his shoulder. Plenty of people told him to pursue other things than baseball and he was left out of a number of prominent showcases and events while in high school. He wants to prove everyone wrong and he wants to be the man. That desire led him to get himself out numerous times as a freshman but some older teammates helped him realize that he had to take his walks and wait for good pitches if he wanted to hit. Once Sabato figured it out, he went on a tear.
With his work ethic and competitiveness, there is no doubt that Sabato will work to get the most out of his talent in pro ball. Whoever drafts him can expect to get his best effort. Right-handed power hitting first baseman don’t have a great track record in the draft, but Sabato won’t let that stereotype hold him back. He could be a huge reward for a team and will immediately hit in a power position for whatever minor league team he is placed on.
Sabato should be there when the Royals pick at 32. He may not be there when they pick at 41. Sabato’s bat is his calling card and we shouldn’t expect a differing position unless it is DH. If he can move fairly quickly and everything breaks his way, he could be starting at first base for this team in three to four years. Investing in a big college bat is not a bad option for the Royals. They don’t have a lot in their system in terms of power bats or first base prospects.
Read about other potential draft picks here!
Image from Chapelboro with no photographer listed.