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Thursday August 18th

Minnesota Twins signee Aaron Sabato talks MLB draft, proving doubters wrong and more

UNC first baseman Aaron Sabato poses for a portrait in Boshamer Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.
Buy Photos UNC first baseman Aaron Sabato poses for a portrait in Boshamer Stadium on Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020.

Assistant Sports Editor Jared McMasters caught up with former Tar Heel Aaron Sabato, who was selected by the Minnesota Twins with the 27th overall pick in the 2020 MLB draft and signed for a $2.75 million bonus on June 23, to discuss the MLB draft, how his game has improved and the canceled MiLB season. This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

The Daily Tar Heel: Congratulations on becoming a member of the Minnesota Twins organization, Aaron. How does it feel?

Aaron Sabato: It's a dream come true. It's everything I've ever wanted as a baseball player. I grew up dreaming about this and thinking about this my whole life, and to take that closer step to getting to the big leagues and playing in the big leagues, it's unbelievable.

DTH: Looking back through the records, I could only find about two dozen other UNC players who were taken in the first round. What does it mean to you to be part of such an elite group like that?

AS: It's just another dream come true. I've wanted to play at UNC since I was little, and the fact that I was able to have the impact that I did at my dream college while also carrying out my dream of being a first-round pick in the MLB draft is literally everything that I've ever wanted.

DTH: Going back to the night of the draft, can you walk me through what that experience was like for you to hear your name called and everything?

AS: Yeah, it's honestly surreal to see when they say, 'The Minnesota Twins select Aaron Sabato.' I'll still go back and watch it a couple times on YouTube just to make sure that I'm not dreaming and that it actually happened. It was crazy to have a bunch of my family there and for them to explode and erupt with cheers. Just having them around was unbelievable.

DTH: Since you're a New York guy, were they hoping that you'd be on the board one pick later for the Yankees to snag you?

AS: Yeah, I've got a bunch of friends and family who watched it and were like, 'Oh my God, you were one pick away from the Yankees.' But I could not be happier that I'm a Minnesota Twin.

DTH: We've talked previously about how you were sort of overlooked in high school, but now you're a guy who was taken in the first round. What's it like for you to see such a drastic change in the way scouts view you over such a short period of time?

AS: That's one of those things where you just work in silence. When all your hard work and everything comes to fruition, it's just one of those things that fuels you. Kind of like that other article that we talked about that you did on me, it's just everything. Putting it all together is why you wake up and why you work hard and why I do what I do. To all those guys that say, 'Oh, you weren't like this out of high school. What's different?' I think it's more on them. You're gonna tell me I got that much substantially better out of high school? But I worked hard, and it just kept pushing me. If you said I wasn't good out of high school, I was going to prove in two years why I should get drafted where I got drafted. It's just one of those things where you don't let it all go out publicly, but you let it motivate you internally.

DTH: When you've spoken with members of the Twins organization, what are some areas of your game that they've said stood out to them?

AS: On the offensive side, just pitch recognition, plate discipline and also having my power numbers back it up. Being a complete hitter, not just a guy who hits home runs.

DTH: Speaking of home runs, the Twins have been sort of famous for that recently. How soon do you see yourself making it up to the majors to contribute some bombs of your own?

AS: I think everything is going to fall into place, but I also think, being that I'm a college guy and not a high school guy, I've seen some of that competition before. I think that if I'm hitting and doing what I can, I'm hoping for a major league debut next year. I mean, no player plans to go into an organization and play four or five years in the minor leagues. My job is to get up as quick as I can to help this organization win, and I think I can do it relatively quickly.

DTH: What are your thoughts on the MLB's plan for a shortened season and the canceled minor league season?

AS: It stinks to not be able to have a season, especially after the college season was canceled. But it's one of those things where you gotta just keep working. This is time where you can edge out other players and get a step ahead on them, so I'm just working.

DTH: So you're not worried at all about the near future of your career since you'll be missing out on a season to improve?

AS: No, not really. I got put in a good spot for where I was going to play, so I feel like as soon as it starts wherever I play, whether that's instructional (league) this year or not playing until next year, I'm just going to be ready.

DTH: With all this free time on your hands in the next few months, what are you doing to keep yourself busy and maintain your training?

AS: I'm just working out, hitting every day, fielding and throwing. Just keeping my body in game-ready shape.

DTH: Going back to our interview from a few months ago that you mentioned, what's your message now to the people like that doctor during your high school days that laughed in your face when you said you wanted to be a pro baseball player?

AS: I guess it's just the same thing; keep turning on your TV because I'll be on there someday.

@McMastersJ

@DTHSports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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