Sabourin’s Season an Unexpected Cycle of Events
Rob McLamb | On 23, Jul 2014
Hitting for cycle is perhaps the hardest thing to achieve in baseball. Non-drafted, unheralded and returned to a league where he has already earned an All-Star Game, Jerrud Sabourin‘s career arch prepared him to accomplish history.
Sabourin became only the fourth player in Carolina history, and the first in 12 years, to hit for the cycle on Saturday when the Mudcats routed the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, 17-2, in South Carolina. The San Diego-native is batting .292 with three homers and 26 RBIs in 65 games with the Muddies.
The season did not start in Zebulon for the former Indiana Hoosier. Sabourin began the year at Akron but was transferred to Carolina after only 12 games. It took some time for the 2013 Carolina League All-Star to get used to.
“When I got back down here I thought about it a little bit,” Sabourin said of his early season demotion. “It’s out of my mind now. I can’t really control those kind of things. I’m just going to try to play my best game. Even if it is not the Indians who eventually want me in the big leagues, there’s 29 other teams out there too.”
The return to Five County Stadium has seen more of the same at the plate from Sabourin. As for the Mudcats, it has been a much different story that last’s season talent-laden squad. In 2013, Carolina spent much of the season with one the worst records in all levels of professional baseball. This year the Muddies are in first place in the Carolina League South Division. If the season were to end Wednesday, each of Cleveland’s top four Minor League teams would reach the playoffs.
“It feels great,” Sabourin said of Carolina’s winning ways. “We’ve got a great team with a great group of guys who come out every day and work hard to get better. We are really seeing it pay off. It is a team sport, not an individual one.”
Part of Carolina’s success this year stems from the versatility of several players. Early in the season the Mudcats were hamstrung by an inordinate amount of injuries. It got so bad in Zebulon that Carolina manager Scooter Tucker at one point actually had more catchers (3) than first basemen (2) on the squad.
Sabourin has added to Carolina’s depth since rejoining the team. A natural first baseman, he has spent considerable time in the outfield in 2014 and has enjoyed learning the nuisances of a new position.
“It is fun for me,” Sabourin said about the position changes. “I’ve played first base my entire life and just played a little bit of outfield here and there. I have always had fun when I’m running around catching fly balls. Although it is business, I’m out there trying to make my reads, it is a lot if fun too.”
Tucker, while happy to have Sabourin’s experience, thinks the return to Carolina will benefit him when it is time to ply his trade in higher levels of baseball.”
“I think learning the outfield will only help,” Ticker said. ” You look at Jerrud and he is probably not going to be a 150 RBI-type of hitter. In a Major League setting, he’d be more likely to have more of a utility-type role. He can do well at that.”
“It is certainly not normal that he’d been as professional as he’s been,” Tucker added. Many players when they get sent down never recover. He has went to work and gotten better.”
As for his special game in Myrtle Beach on Saturday and his prospects for returning to Double-A ball, Sabourin is grateful and pragmatic.
“Triples are hard to come by,” Sabourin said. “I only get a couple of those a year. I had a double and homer in a game but not many triples.”
“I’m just going to play my best at whatever level they have me at,” Sabourin added. “I’ve heard several Major Leaguers say High Class-A was the hardest league they were ever in. I’ll look at it that way. If I can play really well in High A, I think I’ll develop my game a lot better and I have a pretty good chance of eventually making it someday.”
Photo: Carolina Mudcats