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.

Background

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

68 Responses

  1. Tar Heel Red

    If the plan is to release Moustakas at some point before the season starts and replace him with Sabol, then I can see the reason for the pick. If not, to me the Reds just wasted an opportunity by picking yet another LH’ed hitting outfielder. The Reds are already too LH’ed in the outfield. Puzzling.

    • AllTheHype

      Sabol has six years of control. Moustakas has one, and most likely will not make a full one. This is a pick for the future, not just 2023.

    • Hanawi

      If he can really play catcher, then having a 3rd guy on the roster that could also fill in at 1st and OF seems valuable to me. Would allow Stephenson to get more time at DH.

      • Eddiek957

        Good point I believe Stephenson will need forty games between DH and first to get through 162.

    • PTBNL

      The (future) Reds are RH dominant. The (potential) infield is full of RH hitters (India, Steer, Barrero, McClain, Marte, Senzel, Newman & Reynolds) and catchers: Stephenson & Maile. The OF is hardly LH dominant with 3 RH OF and 4 LH on the 40 man roster.
      Lefty hitters are very valuable and I like this pick.

    • MuddyCleats

      Puzzling indeed. Most of us can agree the Reds will never be highly active in FA bidding wars. GM Krall echoed this sentiment in Mark Sheldon’s latest interview on rebuilding the Reds for 2023. However, a low payroll team like the Reds can’t then punt on the low cost ML Rule 5 draft and then expect their fans to believe the organization is doing all it can to compete. Time for all Reds fans to answer Phil Castellini’s question, “where you going to go?” with a “not to many Reds games if improvements to the team aren’t’ made” in 2023.”

  2. JayTheRed

    Guy seems to have some pretty decent stats. We need an outfielder who can hit. I am ok with the pickup for only a small amount of cash if it doesn’t work out.

  3. AllTheHype

    Sabol seems like a decent bet to be rostered a full year to retain his rights. His bat seems as ML ready as any rule 5 pick could possibly be.

  4. Optimist

    I called this and was expecting it. Hoping his catching skill is a bit better than Farmer – i.e. he’s more of a third catcher than an emergency backup. Given his flexibility, it may be a bit easier to keep him on the roster all year if his hitting warrants it. Very impressive roster construction if they can split the catching to TySteve 80, Maile 40, Sabol 20, AAA callups 20. Surely there will be injury list time, so he may squeak thru to next season.

    They’ve filled the empty spots in the organization at catcher, now if they could only find outfielders and relievers.

    • AllTheHype

      He’s not likely a viable ML catcher in any sense. If he were, surely he would have been protected. He’s going to be defensively challenged in OF for sure. Hopefully he can overcome that.

      • Optimist

        He’s evidently more viable than any of the eligible catchers summarized elsewhere who were not taken, who had varied offensive and defensive skills. As for being “defensively challenged”, he’s clearly not selected as a defensive replacement. If his bat performs, he’ll fit nicely into a C/RF/DH bench role. It’s the C part of that they needed to fill. It’s a small move, but necessary, and may prove useful.

    • Votto4life

      Did you call the Reds trading him too?

      • Optimist

        No one is indispensable! Sadly, he had to go. 😉

      • Votto4life

        @optimist Yes and I just ordered his jersey too! Seriously, good call. I have never even heard of the guy. Lol

  5. DataDumpster

    I think Sabol is the OF pickup that the Reds were expected by many to acquire in free agency. Don’t laugh or be overly disappointed, his stats and progress measure up well to anyone else in the outfield at this point. Winning is not in the cards next year, don’t get distracted about nonsense like their interest in McCutchen.

  6. MBS

    Nice! Good numbers in AA, and his short time in AAA. Now let’s see if he can make the next step.

    I’m also glad we didn’t lose anyone in the draft. I want to see what Johnson, Quintana, and Northcut do this season.

  7. Randy in Chatt

    two 6’4 catchers on the 40 man….I think the Reds lead the league.

    • DaveCT

      With the signing of Jhonny Paredes, we may have the thinnest catcher, too. 6’1″ 170. But I never think it hurts to have a Spanish speaking catcher.

  8. DaveCT

    The two pitchers in the minor league phase, Kyle Grogoski and Brooks Crawford, both had nice 2022 seasons. Neither had much written as far as scouting but Grogoski is from New Zealand and Crawford is a Clemson product.

  9. Greenfield Red

    How can you go wrong when picking up unprotected guys from Pittsburgh?

    • Dan

      For some reason, the Pirates lost a BAJILLION guys…

      • DaveCT

        Their system is reportedly very deep

  10. LDS

    Impressive – at least the food & drink was likely good. If this is all the Reds have to show for the winter meetings, Castellini needs to make Krall and Bell pay their own expenses for the trip.

  11. SellTheTeamBob

    On his application to the Reds was Salary Desired and he must have said minimum wage and they drafted him.

  12. Eddiek957

    I looked over the players available for the rule five. Sabol was one of the five players I thought made sense for the Reds. Hope they break him in right

    • earmbrister

      “Hope they break him in right”. Yeah, he was a Red for less than 2 hours before the trade to the SFGs.

      It was a coffee break.

  13. Votto4life

    “For a player to be named later OR cash consideration”
    Hmmm ? I wonder which one it will be?

    • Votto4life

      Sorry it’s both a player to be named later and cash consideration. The Reds will be more concerned about the later.

      I must say with the inactivity and landing the seventh pick, after losing 100 games, this may go down in history as the worst off season in Red’s history.

      This franchise is at rock bottom.

      • Brad

        Not yet. They need to extend Bell and Krull. Then it’s rock bottem.

      • Colorado Red

        The Cash is probably the 100K they owe for the pick.

  14. RedsGettingBetter

    Blake Sabol was not in the group of players mentioned by Doug in the articles related to the rule 5 draft so I guess Doug does not like him so much . He has good numbers in AA and AAA level but as a typical player selected from this draft, he hasn´t experience at major level… Hopefully he could be more productive than Mark Payton was…

  15. Bdh

    I like the pick. Provides an Emergency 3rd catcher so Stephenson can play some off the plate, gives you a left handed bat off the bench, and has had good numbers throughout the minors.

    Offensively if I were Krall I’d make 3 more moves now

    1 – get rid of Moose. Find a team that will swap a bad pitching contract for him or just cut ties. The pick of Sabol (a lefty who can also play some 1B) makes it seem even more likely that Moose is gone soon.

    2 – sign an outfielder to hit in the middle of the order. I know it’s unlikely the Benintendi plan I tried to will into existence happens but there’s plenty of decent options who could fill this role on 1-2 year deals. (Conforto, Myers, Duvall, McCutchen, Profar, Gallo, etc.)

    3 – Sign another bat first player with some positional versatility who can DH. Bringing back Solano for this role makes a lot of sense in my opinion. Open the spot on the 40 man roster by getting rid of Reynolds who doesn’t have options left anyway

    Opening day lineup something like the following

    1 – Friedl – CF
    2 – India – 2B
    3 – Stephenson – C
    4 – Votto – 1B
    5 – Myers (just an example) – LF
    6 – Fraley – RF
    7 – Solano – DH
    8 – Steer – 3B
    9 – Barrero – SS

    B – Maile – C
    B – Newman – INF
    B – Sabol – C/1B/OF
    B – 1 of (Solak/Senzel/Fairchild) – OF

    De La Cruz up by June and the lineup looks something like this

    1 – India – 2B
    2 – De La Cruz – SS
    3 – Stephenson – C
    4 – Votto – 1B
    5 – Myers (again just an example) – LF
    6 – Fraley – RF
    7 – Solano – DH
    8 – Steer – 3B
    9 – Friedl – CF

    I wouldn’t be mad at that lineup

    • Bdh

      Well I didn’t see he was given to the giants already lol

      My 3 moves wouldn’t change. I’d just have 2 of those 3 outfielders (Solak, Senzel, Fairchild) on the bench instead of 1

      • Votto4life

        Well, Nick Krall is like a bull in a China shop.

    • Chris Holbert

      I do not understand everyone’s love for Freidl…he is not good in CF, and below average in the batter’s box. His only redeeming quality is he is LH. The Reds sure have caused the fans to lower the bar, when he is acceptable as a regular MLB CF.

      • Bdh

        Friedl overall last season was just barely above average with a 101OPS+ but his numbers after he was recalled in mid August until the end of the season were very solid

        August 16th – end of season (1/4 of the season)
        He slashed .267/.354/.533 (.887)
        In his 36 starts he had 17 XBH including 8 HR
        Only had a k rate of 14%
        Didn’t commit an error in the field

        If he has this type of production over a full season it’s a Brett Gardner type player minus the gaudy stolen base numbers. I don’t see that as lowering the bar at all.

  16. Tar Heel Red

    According to the later update (as of 6:40 p.m.) Sabol was traded to the Giants for a player to be named later AND cash. I still think the Reds lost an opportunity to pick up a player who could have helped both in ’23 and beyond. RHP Kevin Kelly from Cleveland or LHP Jose Lopez from Tampa Bay come to mind. Both are natural relievers and have has some measure of recent success. The Miller kid from Philly would have been another choice, as would OF Mike Gorski from Pittsburgh.

  17. Old-school

    I think the biggest story of the Winter meetings was Kralls non support of Moose. They DFA’d Akiyama end of spring training . It will be interesting to see what happens with Moose

  18. Dan

    Oh good lord… they traded Sabol? Possibly for just $$$?

    I was actually mildly optimistic about Sabol and his ability to swing the stick.

    Sigh… they don’t make it easy…

  19. JayTheRed

    Not really sure why they did this the kids seemed to have some decent potential and don’t we need OF’ers. I know he didn’t play that many games but still.

    Wonder how much cash was involved in the trade?

  20. RedsGettingBetter

    Sabol traded to the SFG for cash and a PTBNL…So I guess if SFG give back Sabol to the Pirates at some point, the Reds don’t have to return the PTBNL and the cash to the SFG too, do they? If so, I really think all has been a waste of time and a lost oportunity to improve the roster…

  21. Brad

    So the Reds picked 4th and the Giants picked 12th and they wanted this kid bad enough to pay the Reds to get him. Is there nothing this front office won’t do for money? Lets see.
    1. Keep all revenue sharing money for Bobs wallet. Check.
    2. Keep all tv money for Bobs wallet. Check.
    3. Keep all money from sale of BAM for Bobs wallet. Check.
    4. Put the cheapest team on the field so Bob has more money for wallet. Check.
    Nope. They will do anything for Bob’s wallet.

    • Votto4life

      Ask for “volunteers” to staff Redsfest check

    • Tar Heel Red

      This type of transaction is not uncommon. In fact the Reds have been involved like this in the past, on both ends of the spectrum. They trade for Josh Hamilton after the Cubs had picked him in the Rule 5 draft. Then just a few years ago the Reds picked Brad Keller, only to trade him to the Royals.

  22. MBS

    What? Traded him away? I’ve been a Krall supporter, but I don’t get this move. Is the PTBNL a better fit for the Reds, or was this just a way to make a quick buck?

    I know rule 5 guys rarely work out, so probably not a big deal, but I did like the kids stats.

      • Votto4life

        It was probably just a courtesy transaction. I doubt a player or cash will ever actually make it to the Reds.

      • Colorado Red

        Votto, My guess is you are not correct in this case.
        The cash is probably 100,000.01. So the Reds make a penny.
        It would have to be 100K or the Reds say no.

  23. 2020ball

    Maybe theres potential in his bat, but we already have a bunch of fringy outfielders and DH candidates. Seems superfluous to the roster to me, that he’s caught before matters very little if he cant handle it full time. Most teams pass in the rule 5 or end up returning the player, very rare you see someone from this draft make an impact so that the Reds got anything for him has to be a win no? Oh yeah, im posting on RLN, there can be no wins.

  24. Harold

    Congratulations to the young man. He just moved up to a team that could contend. The Reds made a little money and will get a Giant reject. Cash and a reject, sounds like a good deal to me!!!

  25. Harry Stoner

    It appears as if the Reds have made such a move before:

    6. Brad Keller, RHP, KC: Selected by Reds (traded to Royals) from D-backs, 2017 (8.9)
    Keller began his first year with the Royals in the bullpen but might have been their most consistent starter by season’s end. He was a mainstay in the rotation for the next three seasons and spent most of 2022 doing the same, though a lack of results pushed him back to relief work late in the year. From a bWAR perspective, his most productive year was his rookie season (4.0), followed by the following year (3.0).

    The Reds’ received utility player Cash Considerations.

  26. Erik the Red

    We barely knew him. At least he went to an organization that has won a WS in this century.

  27. MK

    Probably like Hamilton Rule V draft when Cubs selected him then traded him to Reds. Giants wanted Sabol, Reds didn’t, but Giants paid the Reds to take him by paying the $100,000 because they didn’t think he would get to them. The Reds get a player they want from a list the Giants provided. Really a smart deal as they get a Rule 5 type player for free, don’t need to put him on 40-man and don’t have to give him back if he doesn’t make the team.

    • Colorado Red

      The Giants, have to put him on the 40 man, or pass him through waivers, and offer him back.
      They did not think he would be available when they picked.
      Stupid move by the deads.

      • MK

        I don’t get why it would be stupid. Giants got what they wanted and Reds will get what they want with player to be named. Didn’t cost the Reds a dime and they developed a positive relationship with the Giants. It is a win win for both teams as they both got what they wanted.

      • Old Big Ed

        MK, I agree completely. The Reds likely turned a Rule 5 slot, which is almost always a nothing-burger, into a prospect that they wanted. The Giants almost certainly paid the Reds the $100,000 fee that the Reds had to pay to the Pirates. For example, the Reds may be taking a young Dominican player that they saw in the Giants’ Arizona complex-league team.

        It is less possible that the Giants intend to trade a veteran on the Reds, like Desclafani (although he may not be a good example) and agreed to pay the Reds a big hunk of his salary. Because the Reds would want to do a medical check on the veteran, they needed to announce it as a PTNBL deal.

        I don’t see any downside whatsoever to this maneuver. They either got a new prospect whom they like, or else a veteran at a reduced price. They didn’t have either on Tuesday and now they do.

      • Greenfield Red

        I hope the return is some 17 year old who showed promise in the DSL. The more of those the Reds accumulate the better

        Not interested in a 26 yo AA pitcher

  28. Jim Walker

    Bobby Nightengale tweeted very soon after the Sabol selection was announced that folks should keep in mind that teams picking earlier in the Rule 5 often made a pick to flip to a team picking later.

    So, I am guessing the fix was in all the way; and, Nightengale knew it but couldn’t say anything more definitive without risking blowing the cover of his source(s).

  29. TheCoastMan

    Breaking news! I just heard Bob and Phil got approved for their pan handlers license. I guess they’ll stake out a spot in front of Great American with their tin cups for the holidays.

  30. Tar Heel Red

    The Giants have several prospects of value. Catcher Patrick Bailey seems to have slipped in their eyes and could be available. I have long been enamored of RHP Will Bednar and Heliot Ramos fell from top five status to #18 this year. The Giants are fairly loaded with LHP’ing prospects like Whisenhunt (he is proabbly too high on their rankings to be offered), Mike Mikulski or my personal choice Nick Zwack.