Now that the Sox have signed nearly every draft pick they intended to (as of this writing they have signed 34 of their 40 picks, two of which were in the College World Series) it's time for rookie ball.
Great Falls starts its season tonight and released its roster (full roster here). The 34-man roster includes six returners, 15 2013 draft picks, five 2012 draft picks and three international players.
2013 draft picks: Andrew Mitchell (4th round), James Dykstra (6th), Nick Blount (9th), Brad Goldberg (10th), Joey Wagman (17th), Jeff McKenzie (28th), Matt Abramson (29th), Sean Hagan (31st)
Four top 10 rounders will anchor the pitching staff. Andrew Mitchell is the highest draft pick of the bunch, but with so many players coming from a starting background he may go to the bullpen. Mitchell split time between the rotation and the bullpen this spring, which does make his arm fresher than most, but he profiles in the 'pen. Dykstra will start and Goldberg, Wagman, McKenzie and Hagan were also college starters. Blount and Abramson are relievers.
Returnee: David Putman (UDFA, '12)
Spent 2012 with Bristol: Jose Bautista (Dominican Republic), Jose Brito (DR), David Haselden (UDFA, '12), James Hudelson (28th, '12), Eric Jaffe (11th, '12), Todd Kibby (37th, '11), Anthony Santiago (UDFA, '12)
Bautista, 21, and Brito, 22, both had control issues last year in fairly limited innings. Neither looks like a prospect at the moment. Haselden, 23, should be noted for striking out 20 batters against no walks in 25 innings with Bristol last year. Jaffe, 22, was a talented, but raw draft pick despite his age last year and could be a sleeper if he gets it together.
Also, for the sake of being thorough, Jake Sanchez is a 23-year-old free agent signing that the Sox snatched from the Joliet Slammers of the independent Frontier League.
Dillon Haupt (20th, '13), Trey Wimmer (23rd, '13), Zachary Fisher (27th, '12)
Haupt and Wimmer represent Division I senior catchers. Fisher, 21, was drafted as a junior out of New Mexico last year and was hitting .268 in 71 at-bats with Kannapolis this season.
2013 draft picks: Tyler Shryock (12th), Christian Stringer (16th)
Shryock and Stringer both put up solid offensive numbers in competitive Division I conferences. Both should be expected to hit with some success in the Pioneer League.
Returnees: Abe Ruiz (16th, '12), Zach Voight (20th, '12), Tyler Williams (UDFA, '11)
Not too much to say about this group other than that Voight hit .339 in 59 at-bats with 26 walks with the Voyagers last year so he could be expected to be a solid contributor if he gets more time.
Spent 2012 with Bristol: Nicholas Basto (5th, '12), Corey Thompson (31st, '12), Alex Williams (19th, '12)
Basto hit just .238 with Bristol last year, but is the third highest draft pick on the team. He is one of the most intriguing players on the Great Falls roster.
To fill in the "other category" Jairo Kelly is a 20-year-old shortstop that had been in the Indians' system since 2009. He hit .212 in the New York-Penn League last year.
Jacob May (3rd, '13), Mike Carballo (18th, '13), Jacob Morris (24th, '13), Justin Jirschele (UDFA, '12), Arby Fields (UDFA '13)
Obviously May draws the most attention of this group because he is the highest draft pick on the team. Carballo and Morris hit under .200 in their college seasons so playing time is likely up in the air. Jirschele is a returner that is listed as an outfielder, but has typically played in the infield.
The pitching staff appears much deeper than the batting, but the Pioneer League is always a hitters' league. The Voyagers are typically successful and the pitching staff could make that happen yet again. On the prospect side, May, Mitchell and even Basto could provide some excitement.