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Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Prospect Notes: Greensboro Grasshoppers, Blake Sabol, Jason Delay

BRADENTON, Fla. – On Monday, I had a chance to watch the Pittsburgh Pirates’ A-ball affiliates in Spring Training action. I also spoke with Greensboro manager Callix Crabbe and Pirates’ catching coordinator Chad Noble. Both of those conversations have been featured in other articles in this week’s drop of articles, and I had a few notes remaining from the conversation that I wanted to share.

Greensboro Looking Strong Early

The Pirates are expected to send a lot of their 2021 Bradenton Marauders roster to High-A Greensboro this year. Monday’s game had a lot of position players from that group playing with the High-A squad. So far, Greensboro manager Callix Crabbe has liked what he’s seen from the High-A Spring Training team.

“We’ve been playing really good baseball,” said Crabbe. “I think everything that we’re expecting to see out of this group has been true. High-energy group. Play the game the right way. Has really good instincts for the game. Really good offensive potential, a lot of the collective group. Very cohesive. I’ve been very pleased with their time in Spring Training together. There’s no question it’s a group that’s going to be exciting to watch play baseball.”

The roster spots in the minors aren’t set, but the Pirates are believed to be focusing on that this week. Greensboro has 30 roster spots now, and you can expect them to go pitcher-heavy, with 16-17 spots used on pitching.

Blake Sabol’s Catching

Blake Sabol has some impressive raw power, while playing behind the plate and corner outfield. His power would look great at catcher, adding just another option to a position that is growing with talent. Sabol has been working on his defense behind the plate, so as to not give that up.

“He’s super athletic, mashes at the plate,” said Pirates’ catching coordinator Chad Noble. “He was having some trouble getting under the ball, and we cleaned some stuff up. For me, it’s all about being comfortable in the position. If you’re not comfortable, I don’t care how you catch, you’re not going to catch well. I think it’s more of a rep thing with him. The more he gets back there, the more he feels comfortable, and the better he’s catching.”

Sabol behind the plate is a luxury more than a need, considering all of the alternative options the Pirates have. His bat could reach the majors as a corner outfielder, where he’ll probably get more playing time this year than behind the plate.

Jason Delay as MLB Depth?

I’ve always felt that Jason Delay could reach the majors due to his defense alone. Chad Noble highlighted him as a good upper level catcher who can manage a pitching staff.

“He has that calming presence back there,” said Noble of Delay. “He’s super even keel. He’s a big body. He’s got a great target. He allows the pitchers, even if he’s not targeting on a specific area, he’s so big they can pick parts on his body to target.”

The Pirates have a lot of catching prospects, with most opening the season between High-A and Double-A. I could see Delay opening in Triple-A this year, and even getting a shot in Pittsburgh as a backup this year if enough depth is needed. I don’t think the Pirates would need to go through a lot of catchers to get to Delay’s opportunity. He could be a defensive backup, or a third catcher out of Triple-A.

THIS WEEK ON PIRATES PROSPECTS

The Pirates Have Built Up An Impressive Group of Catching Prospects

Pirates Prospects Scouting Notes: Jared Jones

Pirates Prospects Scouting Notes: Anthony Solometo

The Pirates Could Have a Temporary Logjam of Catching Prospects in High-A to Start 2022

How Often Do the Top Minor League Hitters Make it to the Majors from Each Level?

Cal Mitchell Responded to Double-A Challenge In 2021

Prospect Notes: Greensboro Grasshoppers, Blake Sabol, Jason Delay

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Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.

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