Outfielder Blake Sabol is off to a good start in his first year in Minor League Baseball.
He was one of the top base stealers in the PAC-12 Conference this past year, finishing out his three-year collegiate career with the USC Trojans.
Sabol hasn’t had as much success swiping bases with the Black Bears, but he has proven to be one of the team’s top hitters at the plate in the middle of Drew Saylor’s lineup.
“I think the nice thing about playing every single day is that you can make mini adjustments throughout the game. In your first at bat, you felt like you were jumping at pitches, so you have to let the ball travel a little bit. Or maybe the ball is getting in on you a little bit, so you have to start your swing a little bit earlier,” Sabol said.
Sabol was drafted in the seventh round out of USC earlier this year. He’s been with the Black Bears since, putting in the long hours with the rest of the team in hopes of moving his way up the pirates minor league system.
“You know the game rolls around at 6:30 or 7:00. So usually we’re at the field from anywhere from like 1:30 to 10:30. We’ve had a couple extra inning games where we didn’t get out of here until 11:30 or 12. It’s just a day in the life, but it’s what every one of us signed up for and we’re all just striving to make our dreams come true and make it to the majors,” said Sabol.
Sabol isn’t the first in his family to try to work his way through the minors. His older brother played for Brooklyn in the New York-Penn League, and advanced through part of the Mets organization.
His brother is another person that Sabol can go to for advice.
“Early in the season, I think the second week, I had a game where I struck out four times. And I was kind of freaking out, because I had never done that in my life. So I called my brother that night, and he helped calm me down. He was like, dude you’re fine. You hope it doesn’t happen again, but I can tell you it’s going to happen again. He was like, I’ve already watched Christian Yelich strike out eight times in a row. It happens. He’s an MVP. I don’t think he cares about striking out in the Minor Leagues anymore. He’s like, just try to get better every day,” Sabol said.
And now Blake and his older brother can impart their wisdom on their younger brother, who hopes to go through the same thing.
“Just having him to talk to, and look up at, it’s helped me transition into this phase of my life. And my little brother – he’s probably the best one out of all three of us, honestly. He got taught the best things at the youngest age. So I think he’ll be fine once he moves on to the next level,” said the former Trojan
Sabol, like all the Black Bears players, wants to play on the biggest stage one day. But knows there’s a process to him advancing to the big show.
“It’s all a developmental thing for us. The end goal is obviously to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park one day. There’s definitely a long way to go before I can get up there, but I definitely want to use each level as a stepping stone to getting there,” he said.