Pirates Prospects Player of the Week: Blake Sabol

This was an odd week, with no unanimous choices for teams, and very few players actually qualifying for the article compared to the average week. Four different players got the overall Player of the Week vote, and four different players got votes for the Indianapolis Player of the Week. Basically, it was a good week for Indianapolis and not much else. Possibly it was related to a poor opponent, but we can’t hold that against a team effort. Those are the teams you’re supposed to getting fat off of during the season. Indianapolis had seven players with an OPS over .800, compared to six for the other three teams combined. The best hitter for the week and for Indianapolis was Blake Sabol, who put up a .364/.482/.773 slash line in 26 plate appearances, earning him the Pirates Prospects Player of the Week.

The last time I praised Sabol in an article was in a roundtable for players who made moves up the system. I noted that I didn’t buy into him early because every time I saw him, he showed that he could be pitched to, chasing the same pitches over and over without success, so a good advanced scouting report is all a pitcher needed to get him out. He wasn’t chasing that same breaking ball low and inside anymore when I saw him at his best this year, and it was going on long enough that it seemed like he corrected what I thought was his biggest flaw. He then looked bad for about two weeks with a high strikeout rate and not much else because of the same issue, so I’d like to apologize in advance to him for this article.

When Henry Davis returned to Altoona, Sabol was promoted to Indianapolis, where he has split catching time, while also serving as a DH and playing left field. It’s obviously a very small sample size, but he has a 1.126 OPS in 11 games since joining Indianapolis. That’s in addition to the solid .833 OPS he had in 98 games with Altoona prior to his promotion. He’s shown the bat is going to get him to the majors, but now the only question is what role will he play.

Sabol is not going to start at catcher, the defense there is well behind the bat, but the versatility could lead to him getting more at-bats than just him playing corner outfield. They could also just stick him in left field next year and let him run with it at Indianapolis for a few months, or however long it takes to make sure the bat is legit. He wasn’t tearing up the level (at times he was) and he was age appropriate for Double-A, just slightly above league average age, so you don’t want to rush someone like that to the majors. The hot streak with Indianapolis gives some added comfort in thinking he could be real, but there’s also the small sample size and the fact that he moved up while on a hot streak. I think what makes it all encouraging is that he has been catching this year full-time for the first time, while still putting up those numbers. That’s a good sign, even if he likely doesn’t end up there in the future.

TRIPLE-A: INDIANAPOLIS INDIANS

Player of the Week: Blake Sabol, .364/.482/.773 2 HR, 1 SB, 27 PA

Analysis:  Besides Sabol, Jared Oliva has been on fire recently, putting up a 1.196 OPS this past week in 29 PAs. He had 14 hits, including five doubles. Mason Martin also did well, hitting his first homer in six weeks, then connecting on another the next game. He put up a 1.089 OPS in 26 PAs. After winning our Player of the Month in April, it’s been a very rough season for him, but he has a .952 OPS in his last 17 games. Brendt Citta had a 1.062 OPS in 13 PAs. Bligh Madris had a strong week, with a 1.009 OPS in 28 PAs, collecting 11 hits, including a triple and a homer. Drew Maggi put up a .959 OPS in 22 PAs, which included two doubles, a triple and his 20th stolen base. Carter Bins went 4-for-14 with a homer and two walks, leading to an .853 OPS.

Luis Ortiz had a strong second outing in Triple-A, after getting roughed up a bit in his debut. He tossed six no-hit inning, with two unearned runs, three walks and nine strikeouts. He’s starting today for the Pirates, which is a bit rushed, but not a big deal because he was going to be added to the 40-man roster after the season anyway. He has had a great season, but the potential upside is huge if he finds the consistency and you get more outings similar to this one. Joe Jacques tossed four shutout innings on one hit, no walks and three strikeouts. Travis MacGregor allowed two runs in his four frames, though both runs were unearned.

DOUBLE-A: ALTOONA CURVE

Player of the Week:  Quinn Priester 0.00 ERA,  5:2 K/BB, 7.0 IP

Analysis: Quinn Priester had quite a start last week, one that earned him the Pitcher of the Week award for the Eastern League. He tossed seven shutout innings on two hits, two walks and five strikeouts. He now has a 2.13 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP and 70 strikeouts in 71.2 innings over 14 starts with Altoona. Jeffrey Passantino tossed four shutout frames over his two relief appearances. Matt Eckelman also had four shutout innings, allowing one hit and one walk. Aaron Shortridge made two starts and limited the damage to one earned run over eight innings. He allowed seven hits, five walks and had six strikeouts.

Malcom Nunez hit .375/.423/.625 in 26 PAs last week, connecting on three doubles and a homer. He has an .871 OPS in 24 games with Altoona, which is 48 points higher than his OPS in a better park/league for hitters before joining the Pirates. Endy Rodriguez just continues to hit. He put up a .979 OPS in 21 PAs this past week, collecting three doubles. He has a .986 OPS for the year in 114 games, with 34 doubles and 24 homers. Connor Scott went 5-for-15 with two doubles, leading to an .820 OPS. Liover Peguero had a .770 OPS in 24 PAs, just missing our usual cutoff, but this was a slow week around the system. A triple and a homer led to a .478 slugging percentage for the week.

HIGH-A: GREENSBORO GRASSHOPPERS

Player of the Week:  Nick Garcia 0.00 ERA, 6:4 K/BB, 7.0  IP

Analysis: Nick Garcia had a strong start, tossed seven scoreless on three hits, four walks and six strikeouts. If he doesn’t get promoted to Altoona for the final week, then he finishes the season with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP in 113 innings, with 109 strikeouts. Garcia didn’t have any real competition for the week. If you followed along with the Prospect Watch articles this week, you know it was a very bad final week for Greensboro. Sammy Siani had the best OPS for the week at a .771 mark, which is below our range for a mention during a normal week. He went 6-for-19 with two doubles and a walk.

LOW-A: BRADENTON MARAUDERS

Player of the Week: Termarr Johnson, .273/.500/.636 1 HR, 2 SB, 18 PA

Analysis: Termarr Johnson really started off slow in pro ball. He did not do well in the FCL, and his first week wasn’t pretty in the FSL, as the youngest player to ever join Bradenton. They stuck with him (as you would expect) and he turned things around to finish strong. He had a 1.136 OPS this past week, and a 1.107 mark over his final ten games. Johnson found out that baseball never makes sense. He was hitting the ball well early according to reports (and some video evidence) and not getting hits to drop in, then his hot streak to end the season started with him getting two gift hits due to poor defense and neither should have been a hit, plus his first pro homer was just a fielder thinking a ball was stuck under the outfield wall and it wasn’t, so a double turned into an inside-the-park homer. It all eventually evens out, because #baseball. Tres Gonzalez had an .873 OPS in 18 games, finishing his first season of pro ball with an .801 OPS in 25 games, with 12 strikeouts in 95 plate appearances. Jack Brannigan had a decent week thanks to five walks in four games. He had a .308/.500/.308 slash line in 18 PAs. Wyatt Hendrie was the leader of the “Just Missed” club, posting a .789 OPS in 13 PAs, which included four walks.

Anthony Solometo was the only pitcher to qualify here, which isn’t a huge surprise since they only played four games this week. He had a strong outing, tossing five shutout frames on one hit, three walks and five strikeouts. He finished the season with a 2.64 ERA in 47.2 innings, with a 1.05 WHIP and 51 strikeouts.

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Bucs'N'Pucks (Jeff Reed)

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