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Twins Blogosphere


Twins Select Aaron Sabato with the 27th Overall Pick

The Minnesota Twins have selected University of North Carolina first basemen Aaron Sabato with their first-round pick. Sabato has about as much power as any player in this draft, short of first overall pick Spencer Torkelson. He fits in nicely with how the Twins have drafted in recent years.
Prior to the MLB Draft, I had Aaron Sabato ranked as the 38th best prospect in the draft. Here is the profile I wrote on Sabato during our pre-draft Top 50 Prospect series.

Scouting Grades
Hit: 55 Power: 65 Run: 35 Throw: 45 Field: 40 Overall: 50

For a college first baseman, with no real potential to play anywhere but first or DH, you better bring a powerful bat if you want to be considered a potential first-round pick, and that is just what Aaron Sabato does.

As a draft eligible sophomore, Sabato’s time to impress scouts at the college level has been limited, but he has made full use of that time. After blasting 18 home runs in 64 games as a true freshman in 2019, Sabato belted another 7 home runs in just 19 games this spring, before the season was cut short.
Defensively, things aren’t always the smoothest for Sabato at first-base, though they aren’t bad enough to take his glove off the field just yet. Hopefully with some professional coaching, he can bring up his play closer to average at first base.



Aaron Sabato is a young player for a college pick, having just turned 21 last Thursday. After going undrafted coming out of high school in 2018, Sabato tore it up in his freshman season at UNC with an impressive .343/.453/.696 slash line. For his efforts, Sabato won a trophy case full of awards, which includes Co-National Freshman of the Year, first-team All-American, first-team Freshman All-America, NCBWA Freshman Hitter of the Year, first-team All-ACC and ACC Freshman of the Year.

He followed that up with a .292/.478/.708 slash line in 19 games this spring before the season got cut short due to COVID-19. Sabato has put his power bat on full display in his time with the Tar Heels, hitting 25 home runs and 31 doubles in just 83 career games.


Twins Scouting Director Sean Johnson said of the Twins top pick, "We thought he was the best offensive player left on the board from every standpoint possible. Going back to his season last year, if you look at him analytically, he lined up with some of the guys who went at the very top of the board."

This now marks 4-4 on the Twins taking a hitter with their first-round pick, since the current regime took over the team. Personally, I think this strategy makes a lot of sense. Typically, pitchers in the draft come with much more risk than hitters do. The reason being, you never know when a serious injury is going to happen, but they are far more likely to happen with a young pitcher than a young hitter.

I think this strategy also speaks to the overall player development strategy of the Twins front office, and that is take talented hitters with good power potential early, then focus on developing pitchers as they come up through the minor league system. This really makes a lot of sense when you consider the background of some of the Twins front office personnel, especially Derek Falvey, who had a big hand in developing the dominate Cleveland Indians starting rotation they had while he was there.



Ty Dawson is the Twins area scout for the Carolinas. It was his first season in that role and second in the organization. He joined the organization and spent the first year as a junior college specialist/scout.

But Johnson explained that a decision like a first-round draft pick is made by much more than just one person.

Johnson noted, ""We did have an all-hands-on-deck approach for this draft. Under the circumstances, Rocco, Mike Bell, Wes Johnson, and on down, all of our player development people, from Jeremy Zoll and Alex Hassan, all of our coordinators. I would say we had upwards of 50 Twins employees that had some opinion on this group of players, from the scouts, PD (Player Development), front office. We asked for a lot of opinions. We really believe in wisdom of crowds. We tried to look at the player from every direction possible."



Read up on some of the other great draft coverage on Twins Daily

Minnesota Twins Draft Preview
2020 MLB Draft Day 1 Thread
How Should the Twins Strategically Approach the MLB Draft?
First Round Busts: The Twins Struckout Three Consecutive Years
Reviewing Minnesota’s Recent First-Round Picks
What does MLB History Say About the 27th Pick?
Mike Trout and 3 Other Stars the Twins Passed On in the MLB Draft

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51 Comments

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Tom Froemming
Jun 10 2020 08:11 PM

I feel like power is the most bankable of all the tools. With the Twins picking this low and having so few picks, I definitely get the logic behind taking Sabato. Not the kind of player I'd like to see targeted under normal circumstances, but I totally get it.

    • jbissell, Dman, Major League Ready and 1 other like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jun 10 2020 08:14 PM

Not at all surprised they went with a hitter here. Not much to evaluate on this year as it was. Good luck to him!

I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Bat-only 1B-DH type when there's other guys that are kind of limited to or will shift to those positions?

 

The power better be legit or this could be bad back-to-back 1st round picks.

    • mikelink45, PDX Twin, Twinfan603 and 1 other like this

I get it, and I like his chances at making the major league roster, so I think I would give this pick a solid B. 

Having said that, it kind of adds to the 1B/Corner Outfielder minor league glut. If Kirilloff doesn't move to 1B, then we have 4 recent 1st round picks all essentially playing the same position: Kirilloff, Rooker, Larnach, and Wallner.

    • jud6312 likes this

Um, I think they made this pick once before.

 

https://collection.b...997-february-28

Worst case, if this whole professional thing doesn’t work out for him, he’ll be the GOAT in any slow pitch softball league!
    • Dantes929, mikelink45, jud6312 and 1 other like this

I think college arm was the better choice.Several good options out there. 

    • mikelink45, Twinfan603, jud6312 and 1 other like this
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Tom Froemming
Jun 10 2020 08:38 PM

Tip of the cap to Seth, who included Sabato as one of his three names to know. From his draft preview last night:

 

Aaron Sabato, 1B (North Carolina)

The game of baseball is now all about power, and Sabato brings as much power to the plate as anyone in the draft. He’s a burly 6-3 and 230 pounds. As a freshman in 2019, he hit .335/.437/.650 (1.087) with 22 doubles and 13 home runs. In just 19 games this spring, he already had seven doubles and six homers. His value is almost solely based on his power. He has little speed and is considered below average at first base. But, he has as much power as anyone in the draft.

    • mikelink45, MN_ExPat, DannySD and 1 other like this
Totally get drafting position players first and arms a little later due to injury, and let's face it arms that just don't translate. The history of our FO here and before is to look for a "something" in arm and bead and work with it and develop it. All makes sense to me. I look at Sabato and I think Jeffers. Quality bat, but power potential, questions about defense. Is this a 1B version with even more power? Great if he is. But in a draft with more arms than most scouts can remember, why do I feel this wasn't the right choice?
I am good with the pick. By the time this guy comes up their may be a DH in the national league and these type of guys will be harder to find. Hopefully we stock up on pitching with are other three picks.
    • TL and DannySD like this
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AdoreAdorno
Jun 10 2020 09:08 PM

Nice profile from the NY Post

https://nypost.com/2...urce=NYPTwitter

    • Seth Stohs likes this
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Tom Froemming
Jun 10 2020 09:15 PM

Physical comp:

    • jjswol, Dantes929, mikelink45 and 1 other like this

If the A's would have gone another direction with their pick, the Twins would have taken Tyler Soderstrom... I really think they just took best player... and this guy can flat-out hit. No one by the late first round is a given... I mean, even the top first round guys aren't givens. 

    • James, SwainZag, DocBauer and 3 others like this

I hope he's good and the power tool does look legit, but boy is it depressing to see them completely bypass the college arm route when there are several intriguing options on the board. If you're gonna gamble, miswell do it at 27.

 

Feels like Sabato is gonna be trade bait in 2021 if he does perform, cause there is no way to fit all of these corner guys.

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, mikelink45 and 1 other like this

I can see it now

 

....and it's another game winning home run.....Domo arigato Mr. Sabato! 

    • birdwatcher, James, nicksaviking and 3 others like this
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puckstopper1
Jun 11 2020 06:11 AM

I'm luke-warm on the pick, especially given the current glut of these types of players already in the system - as others have mentioned.

 

Pitching and banging on trash cans wins Championships, and while Falvine did build a strong team in Cleveland, their approach of not drafting pitching with their high draft picks resulted in them never winning a World Series title.

    • mikelink45, jud6312 and bighat like this
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clutterheart
Jun 11 2020 06:24 AM
The pick is fine. Lets see what he signs for and what they do with the rest of the draft.

With the slotting system its impossible to judge one pick.

This quote from Johnson makes me worried though:

"We really believe in wisdom of crowds"

Has that ever been said before?
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howieramone2
Jun 11 2020 06:33 AM
There are many reasons why the Indians have not won the World Series since 1948.

 

I'm not sure how I feel about this one. Bat-only 1B-DH type when there's other guys that are kind of limited to or will shift to those positions?

 

The power better be legit or this could be bad back-to-back 1st round picks.

THANK YOU!

 

Not thrilled. In the first round the Twins take a first baseman who can't play another position? Means his glove is very suspect.I saw some projections saying he's a future DH - which is fine I guess.....but in the first round? This guy is going to have to be a 30-40 HR player to stay up at the MLB level.

 

Twins must have thought he was the best player available. Very strange pick IMO. Not a fan.

    • mikelink45, PDX Twin, jud6312 and 1 other like this
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Matthew Taylor
Jun 11 2020 06:55 AM

I really like the pick. As others have mentioned, with the shortened draft I'd like to take as safe of a pick as possible. While no pick in the MLB Draft is safe, I feel like this dude has such a dangerous bat that he's making the big leagues no matter what. Buy your season tickets in the bleachers now, because the bombas won't stop any time soon.

    • jbissell, Heistyman and MN_ExPat like this

I'd call it a pick based on projectable value. Just like there are only so many position player spots available, there are only so many pitcher spots available too on a major league team. Just because a player doesn't hold that impactful value for our team due to roster construction doesn't mean that player doesn't hold value for other organizations. I agree a 5-tool guy is always desirable, but in a weird year like this where games aren't even being played and roster evaluation is stagnant, let see how the remaining picks shake out.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

Not real excited about the pick who is so-so at first with no other position other than DH. Similar feel for me to when the Twins took Jeffers a couple years ago, and that appears to be working out well. Hopefully Sabato is another find that I can get excited about in a few years, but I really was hoping for the next Chris Sale.

 

Does anyone see the Twins signing him for several hundred thousand under slot so they can go over in round 4 or 5?

 

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Doctor Gast
Jun 11 2020 07:14 AM

I was pleasantly surprised that Miami pick Max Meyer (Gopher) 3rd. I believe in earliest mock draft this off season, he was ranked 25th & was hoping that Twins had a shot but shortly afterwards his stock quickly sky-rocketed. Hope Sabato works out but was a little disappointed because Twins have a glut of strong bats but no glove. The argument is that they can be good trade bait. But the hole in that argument is the only trade we did this year, we used our highest, MLB ready, impact pitching prospect (where we have a great need) & continue to horde our strong bats, no glove prospects. Maybe we can`t expect much w/ a 27th pick but it seems to me that MN is insecure on drafting high prospect pitchers

    • mikelink45, dgwills and jud6312 like this

 

Not real excited about the pick who is so-so at first with no other position other than DH. Similar feel for me to when the Twins took Jeffers a couple years ago, and that appears to be working out well. Hopefully Sabato is another find that I can get excited about in a few years, but I really was hoping for the next Chris Sale.

 

Does anyone see the Twins signing him for several hundred thousand under slot so they can go over in round 4 or 5?

At this point I just assume their 1st round pick is going to be someone they hope to sign under slot so they can "go big" later on. It's like clockwork. Hopefully it pays off down the road.

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Tom Froemming
Jun 11 2020 07:49 AM

 

Not real excited about the pick who is so-so at first with no other position other than DH. Similar feel for me to when the Twins took Jeffers a couple years ago, and that appears to be working out well. Hopefully Sabato is another find that I can get excited about in a few years, but I really was hoping for the next Chris Sale.

 

Does anyone see the Twins signing him for several hundred thousand under slot so they can go over in round 4 or 5?

I would not expect that to be the case, given that Sabato is only a Sophomore. It would surprise me if he signed for a discount, but just to be clear, that's complete speculation.

    • Danchat and DocBauer like this

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