Do the SF Giants still see Blake Sabol as a catcher?

Baltimore Orioles v San Francisco Giants
Baltimore Orioles v San Francisco Giants / Lachlan Cunningham/GettyImages

SF Giants Rule 5 pick Blake Sabol has gotten off to a nice start with the bat. However, finding a way to get him into the lineup might be a little tough if he is unable to stick at catcher.

Do the SF Giants still see Blake Sabol as a catcher?

The left-handed bat is slashing .254/.318/.442 (107 OPS+) with seven home runs, 18 RBI, and 17 runs in 151 plate appearances. This includes a 6.6 percent walk rate against a 35.1 percent strikeout rate. Now that the lineup is back to full strength, it may be a tough stretch for Sabol in terms of playing time.

His 151 plate appearances are the sixth-most among Giants hitters, so manager Gabe Kapler has not had a problem penciling him into the lineup so far. Outside of catcher, Sabol has seen time in left field and as a DH.

The 25-year-old does not hit as well as Joc Pederson does, so he probably will not be taking at-bats away from the veteran bat at DH. Sabol could help Mitch Haniger in terms of managing the latter's workload by sharing playing time in left field.

That is one way for Sabol to get into the lineup, but what happened with the experiment at catcher? The Giants added Sabol in a trade with the Cincinnati Reds in the offseason. Despite the trade, he is still considered a Rule 5 pick.

The early returns on offense have been encouraging, which is not what you often see with a Rule 5 pick. San Francisco hoped that Sabol would be able to share some of the playing time at catcher. They began the season with Sabol, Joey Bart, and Roberto Pérez as the primary backstops.

It is not often that teams carry three catchers on the active roster, but perhaps, the Giants saw it as two catchers in Bart and Pérez along with one play who could appear occasionally at catcher in Sabol. Sabol only had 94 games of experience behind the dish prior to this season, so there was still a lot to learn at one of the most important positions in baseball.

I think the Giants hoped that they could ease Sabol in at catcher, but with Pérez undergoing season-ending surgery, he was thrust into a more significant role. There have been growing pains with this as Sabol has committed an unusually high number of catcher's interferences. Plus, his blocking leaves a bit to be desired and he flashes a below-average arm.

This is not his fault. The Giants, in a way, forced him into this role. Will they continue to do this, especially with Bart nearing a return from the injured list?

His recent playing time at catcher could be a sign. Since Patrick Bailey was promoted on May 19, the Giants catching prospect has appeared in 15 out of 17 games. This includes 14 complete games at catcher.

Sabol has filled in the gap, but that is not a lot of playing time behind the plate. In today's game, teams do not like catchers playing more than three or four games in a row yet the Giants have done this with a rookie in Bailey. There may not be a ton of confidence in the Giants' chances of winning games with Sabol behind the plate.

Again, this is not his fault. He has limited experience and trying to learn the nuances of the position on the fly. However, his sparse playing time could be a sign that they do not see him as a reliable backup currently. It is an interesting experiment and one that could pay dividends if it works out down the road. For the time being, the Giants will need to balance having both Bart and Bailey on the roster with Sabol getting occasional starts as catcher, too. That might be easier said than done.