The NFL Draft’s first round and later rounds, back forever ago in April, were marked by how few surprises there were, as decision-makers’ self-isolation seemed to make them less prone to second-guessing or outsmarting themselves. The MLB Draft, judging by its first round that just wrapped up, has been about the opposite, with several surprises over the course of the first 29 picks. Something that wasn’t a surprise, though, was Tar Heel first baseman Aaron Sabato getting drafted right in the range my guy Bryson has expected him to be taken, 27th overall to the Minnesota Twins. His draft slot is worth 2.57 million dollars.
The Twins are an interesting landing spot for Sabato; MLB.com ranks their farm system 7th in the league, with 3 position players leading the way - they didn’t lack for powerful bats before selecting Sabato, and now they’ve got an embarrassment of them. You can’t have enough power in today’s MLB, so that doesn’t make Sabato an odd man out by any means. Additionally, Twins DH Nelson Cruz is 39, meaning the team’s likely looking for a DH of the future - Sabato, one of the most powerful prospects in the draft (second-most powerful righty batter in the draft according to Baseball America) and just a sophomore, certainly fits the bill there. So he’s got to stand out as a batter in a pretty crowded farm system, but if he does exactly what we know he can, he’s got a route to succeed.
Since Sabato is a sophomore, he has an unusual amount of leverage for a college player - he could come back to school and be drafted as a sophomore again next year, and then a junior the next - giving him negotiating power. Here’s what he had to say about the possibility of going pro, according to Pat James of GoHeels.com:
“I’m in a good spot for whatever I want to do,” he said. “If the situation is right, I have no problem with going to play professionally. But if it’s not, then I go back to North Carolina with 40 of my best friends and play again.”
Sabato isn’t free of questions, mainly related to his defensive ability (even at first base), ability to hit for average after a serious slump put a dip in his batting average to start 2020, and his plate discipline, which he had already improved a great deal as a sophomore. He could come back to school to try and rectify those while playing with said friends, or take the money and develop in an excellent farm system. We will find out soon what his decision is, but either way, congratulations are in order!