The Cincinnati Reds have taken catcher and outfielder Blake Sabol with their 1st round pick in the Rule 5 draft. Sabol had been with the Pittsburgh Pirates organization and spent his 2022 season in Double-A and Triple-A.
UPDATE (6:40pm ET)
The Cincinnati Reds just announced that they have traded Blake Sabol to the San Francisco Giants for a player to be named later and cash considerations.
Below is the continuation of the original article.
Cincinnati announced their pick and noted the position as “outfielder”, but Blake Sabol played 58 games behind the plate in 2022. He only played in 21 games in left field, with the other 34 games as the designated hitter.
As a Rule 5 draft pick the Cincinnati Reds will need to keep Blake Sabol on the 26-man roster all season or they have to offer him back to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Blake Sabol was a 7th round pick back in 2019 out of USC. He struggled at the plate in his debut, then missed the 2020 season when the minor league campaign was cancelled. He returned in 2021 and hit well, posting a .310/.406/.551 line in 66 games between Single-A Bradenton and High-A Greensboro – he missed the first month or so of the season, then missed a few weeks later in the season.
In 2022 he began the year in Double-A Altoona and hit .281/.347/.486 before being promoted for the final month of the year to Triple-A Indianapolis. While there he hit .296/.426/.543. Not only did he hit better once getting to Triple-A, his plate discipline improved dramatically. While in Altoona he had 38 walks and 107 strikeouts in 412 plate appearances. With Indianapolis he walked 17 times with just 22 strikeouts in 101 plate appearances. Sabol hit 26 doubles, had 6 triples, and added 19 home runs between the two stops.
The left-handed hitter went through swing changes in 2022, utilizing his lower half to help him generate more power. In an interview with Tim Williams of Pirates Prospects from August, Sabol speaks about his journey from being a singles hitter to a guy who tried to hit for a little bit of power at times.
Blake Sabol Scouting Report
He has above-average power potential, and average-ish power today. He seems to have a solid or better idea of the strikezone and a potential fringe-average hit tool. Defensively he’s played more catcher than anywhere else on the field, but he’s probably not a big league catcher any more than Kyle Farmer was. He can handle it if you need him to, but he’s better suited elsewhere on the field. With the designated hitter position now in the National League, Sabol’s ability to be in the lineup in the corner outfield, behind the plate, or as the DH – he could provide some value to the roster if he can hit at the highest level.
Blake Sabol Stats