Sabourin Once Overlooked, Now Excelling with Mudcats

Before the season started, there was quite a bit of hype within the Cleveland organization over the several top prospects that would be starting the season with the Tribe’s Class A affiliate Carolina Mudcats.

With high draft picks like Francisco Lindor and Tyler Naquin beginning the year in Zebulon, plenty of eyes were certain to be fixed on Five County Stadium over the summer.

One player that did not receive the fanfare of Cleveland’s higher profile minor league stars but is excelling and climbing up the ladder within the Indians’ organization with equal success is Mudcats’ infielder Jerrud Sabourin.

Sabourin earned the Indians minor league Player of the Week honors for the week ending on April 14, when the third-year player went 14-32 (.438) with four multi-hit games over that span. Going into Tuesday’s game versus Potomac, Sabourin was second in Carolina League in batting at .411, trailing only teammate Joey Wendle.

“It (the Indians POW award) feels good,” Sabourin said. “I worked really hard this off-season. I came (to camp) in pretty good shape. I made a few mechanical changes in my swing over the off-season.”

“I am looking to keep it going and I don’t see any reason I’ll slow down.”

While Sabourin is thriving on a team full of fledgling superstars, the first-baseman from San Diego has often been overlooked.

Coming out of high school, despite leading his high school team to a No. 7 national ranking, Jerrud was not heavily recruited.

After turning down chances to walk-on at some schools, the first opportunity the left-handed throwing and hitting first-baseman accepted was an open tryout at the University of Arizona. The Wildcat brass elected not to take anyone during the one-day event and Sabourin went home over the winter break to regroup.

Indiana University head coach Tracy Smith saw Sabourin taking batting practice and offered him a chance to walk-on at the Big Ten school.

In Bloomington, Sabourin started on the bench but drove in a run as a late-game substitute against powerhouse LSU in the opening game.

“I ended getting the only RBI, it was the only run scored,” Jerrud recalled. “I ended up getting the start the next day.”

“I kept doing well. I ended up staying in the starting line-up for the rest of my college career and I earned a scholarship (before his sophomore season).”

During his time with the Hoosiers, Sabourin batted .373 and led Indiana to a Big Ten tournament title and a berth in the NCAA regional in 2008.

Sabourin was then signed by the Indians as a Minor League Free Agent on June 14, 2011.

After beginning his professional career with Mahoning Valley, Jerrud finished 2012 tied for third in the Indians minor league system in hits (140) and ninth in batting (.297) as a member of the Lake County Captains.

Being overlooked at various points has not deterred Sabourin during his career. The third-year pro, however, is also not keen to forget how hard it was to make his breakthrough.

“Off the field, during workouts, I’ll get that extra workout in, that extra rep,” Sabourin said. “I work twice as hard. I know I wasn’t a big-draft guy. I tell myself, ‘They passed on someone they shouldn’t have.”’

“I am definitely looking to prove something,” Sabourin added. “At the same time, you can’t go out on the baseball field and play like you have to prove something.”

“You just have to relax and play the game.”

While there may be some angst as to not being drafted out of college, Sabourin is grateful he ended up a member of the Tribe.

“The Indians organization is amazing,” Sabourin said. “They treat all their guys like family honestly.”

“There are no secrets. Everything is out there. It is everything you’d want in an organization.”

Sabourin’s performance during his three seasons of pro ball have left him with no doubt that he can play with the higher profile players who garner more attention.

“The guys on our team that are high draft picks, they do a great job of being humble,” Sabourin said. “They work so hard every day.”

“With anyone playing baseball, you can be a top draft pick or you can be a free agent; It doesn’t matter who you are. It is the same game for everyone.”

“Of course, I can play with them (the higher draft picks). It doesn’t matter who I’m playing with. I can play with anyone. I can play with big leaguers.”

“Playing for the Indians would be amazing. It would be so exciting. I am going to do my best to make it happen, that’s for sure.”

Photo by Nikolaus © 2013 Carolina Mudcats

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