As I mentioned on Monday, the Twins like to draft college hitters with power. If you have enough good hitting prospects, you can trade them for pitching instead of trying to draft and develop pitchers, which is a much more difficult and longer process.
What I didn’t mention on Monday, or rather who, was University of North Carolina first baseman Aaron Sabato. I thought about writing a blurb for him, I really did, but there were two primary reasons I didn’t bother:
- I only heard of him being an option in the first round on Monday afternoon and Tuesday, after my post on hitters had already been published. There was some talk that the Rangers were even considering him as a below-slot pick at 14.
- As much as I love to draft bats, I am not super high on drafting 1B-only kind of guys. With that said, there is a lot to like about Sabato.
A draft eligible sophomore, Sabato has posted two very good seasons at UNC. He hit .343/.453/.696 as a freshman with 25 doubles and 18 homers. In the shortened season this year, he his .292/.478/.708 with 6 doubles and 7 homers in just 19 games. He also posted a 16/22 K/BB ratio, which is a major improvement from last year.
MLB Pipeline had him listed as their 41st overall prospect, while Keith Law of the Athletic had him ranked as his 35th overall prospect.
In terms of tools, Sabato has legitimite 60-grade power and solid contact tools for a 50 grade hit tool according to MLB Pipeline. He has a good eye at the plate and he doesn’t strike out too much for how much power he has. Sabato is also very young, only turning 21 on June 4th, meaning he will get at bats next year as a 21 year old, which is great as a college draftee. The bad is that he is a right handed bat with very limited defensive ability. The last time the Twins drafted a right handed 1B type in the first round or comp rounds was when we selected Brent Rooker in 2017, who is far more athletic than Sabato and who played OF in college and then the pros. Sabato won’t be able to do much more than play first and there is a good chance he is more of a DH in the long run.
The Twins front office has shown they love to draft power bats and Sabato had some of the best raw and in-game power left in the draft. I personally would have preferred Austin Wells, a bat-first catcher who went to the Yankees just one pick later at 28. If the Twins could make Ryan Jeffers into a top defensive catcher, it would have been great to see what they could do with Wells. But the Twins had their pick of the litter between the two and selected Sabato, showing their scouting (which has been great so far) clearly favored the big first baseman. Pete Alonso is the obvious comp as a right handed first basemen with major power, and no team would refuse to have Pete Alonso.
For me there isn’t a ton of excitement about a right handed first-base-only prospect, but Sabato can absolutely mash and fits in well in with the Bomba Squad and the development system we have set up in the minor leagues.
The Twins’ next draft pick will be pick number 59 in the 2nd round, which start tomorrow at 4pm Central Time.