North Carolina First Baseman Aaron Sabato Joins The College Podcast
This week on the Baseball America College Podcast, North Carolina first baseman Aaron Sabato joins Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy to talk about the Tar Heels’ trip this fall to the Dominican Republic and what he's working on to get ready for the 2020 season.
Sabato was an All-American in 2019 after hitting .343/.453/.696 with 18 home runs as a freshman and led the Tar Heels in nearly every significant offensive category.
After playing through an injury during the final month of the season, Sabato took the summer off. Now fully healthy again this fall, he is back to crushing baseballs, including this mammoth shot off a batting tee that hit off the batter’s eye, well over 400 feet away.
“That felt really good,” Sabato said. “I’ve never been really hurt before. When you come back there’s always questions of, ‘Am I going to have my strength, my power?’ Especially coming off a year when you’re feeling good about yourself and then you get hurt, now it’s like a blank slate.
“Being able to come back and do that, something I was never able to do before, it’s awesome. It answers questions.”
Sabato has also been working over the last year to improve his defense at first base. Sabato, listed at 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, was a shortstop in high school, but as he said, in college the shortstops don’t look like him.
Sabato moved to first base, but quickly learned that it isn’t as easy as it looks to play his new position.
“You get to a position like playing first and you think it’s easy,” he said. “But there’s so much that I realized I didn’t know, and I got exposed for it.
“It was either focus on hitting and only be a hitter and only be a DH, but that’s not what I wanted to do, that’s not who I wanted to be as a baseball player. So it just took a lot of time of early work of hours before a game and hours after practice of asking coaches to hit me ground balls. I’m 10 times better as a defender than I was last year.”
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The Tar Heels traveled to the Dominican Republic during fall break. They played three games against professional teams during the trip and worked in the community with SCORE International.
Sabato said he’ll never forget the trip and was especially impacted by a visit the team made to an orphanage.
“It was really eye opening,” he said. “These girls have been abandoned. It was something that we never really experience here and something that we overlook, realizing how tough it is for these girls.
“It was just really eye opening. We just take little things for granted that we have here and that they really don’t have and would be so useful for them.”