Blake Sabol Continues Greensboro Tear, Home Run Streak at Three Games

Photo Credit: USC Athletics

 This is absolutely the best thing about talking about the Pittsburgh Pirates minor league teams, there is almost someone new to talk about every night. Tonight, thanks to his continued tear since reaching Greensboro, we feature Blake Sabol.

Even before Sabol was drafted in the seventh round by the Pirates, he was already linked to the city of Pittsburgh. Not only is he close friends with Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Juju Smith-Schuster, he is the cousin of legendary safety Troy Polamalu

So it probably shouldn't come to the surprise of anyone seeing Sabol out there making plays on the baseball field, it's in his blood.

Sabol, like Smith-Schuster and Polamalu, attended USC staring as both an outfielder and catcher. During his junior year, Sabol batted .268 while posting a .714 OPS, stealing 13 bases and collecting 14 extra base hits. His 62 hits led the team, and he also collected 20 multi-hit games before signing an over slot deal of $250,000 with the Pirates.

In 57 games with West Virginia after being drafted, Sabol showed some promise, with 14 extra base hits, stealing five bases and posting a .701 OPS. He also showed some versatility in the outfield, playing at all three positions.

With the minor leagues opening back up in 2021, Sabol was originally assigned to the Bradenton Marauders where he quickly showed his advanced hitting skills. In 14 games with the Marauders Sabol posted a 1.052 OPS while collecting 25 total bases in just 46 at bats. He showed a more collected approach at the plate, walking as many times as he did strike out (12). 

He also showed off his ability to play catcher, getting into three contest behind the plate and throwing out 40% of the would be base stealers (2-for-5).

Pirates Prospects said of Sabol 'He's interested scouts due to good raw power, but he's had trouble finding it in games partly due to an impatient approach'. Jim Callis also mentioned his raw power as being his best tool when he signed.

After his quick start at the plate in Bradenton, Sabol got the call to Greensboro, where he has truly started to tap into some of that raw power.

In the 12 games with the Grasshoppers, Sabol has a .796% slugging, with 31 total bases in just 39 at bats. After hitting a home run Saturday night, the 23-year old has gone deep in three straight games and has five total in the 12 games he's played in.

He's currently on an eight game on base streak, and has started to grow out of his 'impatient approach' at the plate. With Greensboro so far, Sabol is averaging 4.510 pitches per plate appearance, a full half a pitch up from his minor league average.

It's 12 games. That's a really small sample size, especially in baseball, but it's certainly encouraging to see a player respond positively to a promotion like Sabol did. A better tell will be how he makes the first adjustment after opposing pitchers make their first push.

In the mean time, we can keep enjoying Sabol joining the power fest that the Grasshoppers enjoy, with players like Aaron Shackelford and Matt Fraizer both in double digits when it comes to home runs. At his current pace it won't take Sabol too long catch up.

Other notables around the minor leagues

Mitch Keller's struggles continue, and it may be getting close to the point where some uncomfortable questions are starting to get asked. The righty walked three, gave up seven hits and allowed six runs (four earned). He did record nine strikeouts, but the rest of the stat line wasn't pretty.

Cam Vieaux has really responded to his move to the Altoona rotation, and has started to string some nice starts together. Saturday saw him pitch six innings of one run baseball while striking out four.

Cal Mitchell and Mason Martin both hit moon shots that still may be traveling. By the time they land, both Mitchell and Martin should be in Indianapolis. There really isn't much left for them to prove in Altoona and it'd be nice to see them get pushed at the end of the season.

While there are times that Nick Gonzales still looks uncomfortable against fastballs, timing wise, he's starting to hit the ball again. He went 2-for-5 with two more RBIs Saturday. Jared Triolo hit his seventh home run of the season. He's enjoyed a really good season and is another prime promotion candidate.

Maikol Escotto's solo shot was the lone run for the Marauders. 

What have you thought about Sabol's start to the season? If it's not maintainable, what are realistic expectations for him the rest of the season? Let us know in the comment section below, subscribe to the site with the link at the top of the site and follow us on Twitter @SportBlogMurphy.

Also, follow me on Twitter @AJ_Murfy.

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