The 2020 Major League Baseball draft will be one to remember by all, but it’s going to be extremely memorable for Aaron Sabato, a University of North Carolina Slugger.
The Brunswick High School product quickly made a name for himself in the baseball world. What has and will be Sabato’s claim to fame is his power. That was obvious right from the get-go especially the summer before his senior high school season. It was there that he broke Bryce Harper‘s Perfect Game National Showcase record with a batted ball at 103 MPH.
Before departing for the collegiate ranks, Sabato ranked as the fourth overall prospect in the state of New York according to Perfect Game. Sabato really made himself known nationally after playing for the Georgia-based five-star travel team. The sophomore-eligible prospect is ranked 41st, according to MLB.com.
That landed Sabato a scholarship on the University of North Carolina baseball team. From there he shined brightly as a Tarheel. Despite a slow start to his freshman collegiate campaign, Sabato went on to hit .380 in 44 contests. Although he endured off-season surgery, Sabato continued those efforts in the abbreviated 2020 season. That included leading the Tarheels with seven home runs, 18 RBI, six doubles, and 22 walks and being named second-team All-American by the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
From Sabato’s six-foot three-inch, 230-pound frame, one might think it’s the power game that he’s into. Despite that, Sabato is more of an all-around batter with solid reaction time and well-above-average bat speed through the zone. The loft in the right-handed hitter’s swing also bodes well to exceptional raw power, as evident by his average of 12.5 home runs per season. At the same time, he employs a lot of patience that has equated to many walks and few strikeouts. Sabato was given a rating of 85 out of 100 for plate discipline by D1baseball.com in 2020 alone.
Sabato has held an OPS of 1.150 or higher each of the past two seasons. During his freshman season at UNC, he hit a school-record 18 home runs. That earned him ACC Freshman of the Year honors. In the shortened 2020 campaign, Sabato managed to show off both power and patience, and he averaged nearly two hits per game in college.
Despite his many strengths while inside the batters’ box, there were limitations for Aaron Sabato outside of it. Speed is one of those limitations. That is evident by his having not stolen a base since he got to college. That is reinforced by his 30/80 grade for his speed.
Sabato has worked on his fielding but his lack of versatility has pegged him as solely a first basemen in the eyes of scouts. His quick hands, powerful swing, and quick eyes really define all of his athleticism.
From the slight leg kick to the lofty swing, Aaron Sabato draws a lot of comparison to 2019 MLB Rookie of the Year, Pete Alonso. Both have a hefty build and stature with the New York Mets slugger coming in just 15 pounds heavier than Sabato. Both Sabato and Alonso have quick hands through the zone and utilize a power-over-hit approach.
Patience at the plate is shared by both Sabato and Alonso and both utilize that to the fullest extent. Just like Sabato, Pete Alonso, while at the University of Florida, didn’t provide much of a threat on the basepaths. Through his 161 games played at the professional level, Alonso has swiped just one base.
Both have the ability to hit at least 25-30 home runs across single major league campaigns. The exciting thing for Sabato is the strong start that he’s been off to. When Alonso was a freshman, he totaled just four home runs compared to Sabato’s 17. Sabato even overcame Alonso’s sophomore home run total.
The Potential Path Forward
While Sabato’s exact destination in the draft isn’t quite known, he will most likely have his name called within the first two rounds. Some mock drafts say that Sabato could end up being drafted 26th overall by the Oakland A’s. Another strong fit for Sabato could lie with the Atlanta Braves. Although Freddie Freeman had a strong 2019 season, he turns 31 in Septmeber. Therefore, the Braves could draft Sabato and have him ready for MLB by the time Freeman reaches his mid-30s.
Sabato still has some time before he’ll reach the levels of Pete Alonso or Freddie Freeman, but he’s already well on his way.
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