2015 Great Falls Voyagers season preview

The 2015 draft is done and the White Sox have nearly their entire class under contract and assigned. The White Sox have two rookie affiliates, the Arizona League White Sox and the Great Falls Voyagers of the Pioneer League. I'll be profiling the Great Falls roster with notes on where the Sox acquired these players, what they've done thus far, and what we may expect from them.

The Voyagers have 31 active players on their opening day roster as well as four pitchers currently on the disabled list (Aaron Bummer, Matt Lane, Josh Goossen-Brown, Andres Sanchez). Of the 31 active players, four players are from the 2013 draft class, eight from the 2014 class, 13 from the most recent 2015 class and six players were free agent signings.

Pitching

2015 class: Zack Erwin (4th round), Ryan Hinchley (9th round), Danny Dopico (11th round), Dylan Barrow (23rd round), Brandon Magallones (24th round), Drew Hasler (34th round).

Erwin is the headliner here, as he is the highest Sox draft pick that has signed. Erwin features three average to above average offerings including a plus curveball and a fastball that sits mostly 88-90. Erwin had a 3.04 ERA over 106.2 IP this season with Clemson, pitching almost exclusive in a starting role. Hinchley is a senior sign who is also a local product, serving as the closer for the nearby UIC Flames. Hinchley saw a velocity spike this spring and was throwing 92-95 MPH. Dopico is another reliever, striking out 57 over 45.1 inning with a 1.99 ERA as a closer for Florida International.

Repeating Rookie Ball: Matt Ball (11th round, 2013), Tanner Banks (18th round, 2014), Brannon Easterling (20th round, 2014), Evin Einhardt (29th, 2014), Chris Freudenberg (8th round, 2013), Mike Gomez (13th, 2014), Tanner Mendonca (17th round pick by Minnesota, 2013), Lucas Shearrow (UDFA), Braulio Ortiz (international FA).

Ball had some hype when he was drafted out of high school in 2013, but unfortunately the 20-year-old has a 6.58 ERA thus far in two years of rookie ball. Ortiz pitched in Birmingham last year, but has yet to see action in 2015 and is with the Voyagers on a rehab assignment. Easterling and Freudenberg pitched well last year in rookie ball and I would expect them to be the workhorses of the Voyagers staff.

Catchers

Casey Schroeder (8th round, 2015), Zach Fish (11th round, 2014), Joxelier Garcia (international FA).

Schroeder is a raw but toolsy player who has flashed big power and a strong arm. Schroeder hit .230/.370/.500 at Coastal Carolina with 13 home runs and has the added benefit of being a switch-hitter. Fish is repeating Great Falls after a weak stint in Kannapolis earlier this year. Garcia is a product of the Dominican Summer League and also appeared in a handful of games in 2014 for the Arizona League White Sox.

Infielders

SS Johan Cruz (international FA), 2B Dante Flores (18th round, 2015), 2B Jake Jarvis (10th round, 2014), 1B Ryan Jones (27th round, 2014), SS Grant Massey (26th round, 2015), 1B Sikes Orvis (17th round, 2015), 2B Victor Velasquez (international FA).

Cruz is the big name in the infield, as he was one of the crown jewels of Marco Paddy's first international class back in 2012. Cruz played in the Dominican Summer League for a couple years before making it stateside last year, where he posted a .179/.273/.256 line with the Arizona White Sox. At 19 now he should be making some waves in rookie ball. Jarvis is another interesting name as he was considered somewhat of a steal in the 10th round last year as he fell due to signability concerns out of high school. However, he only posted a .221/.333/.263 line in Arizona and, similarly to Cruz, should improve upon that. Flores and Orvis were statistically productive seniors at big schools, so they should put up nice numbers for the Voyagers.

Outfielders

Antonio Rodriguez (international FA), Jackson Glines (10th round, 2015), Frank Califano (19th round, 2015), Landon Lassiter (21st round, 2015), Louis Silverio (33rd round, 2014).

Rodriguez was a part of the same international signing class as Cruz and his career has followed a similar path. However, Rodriguez, 20, actually hit fairly well last year in the Arizona League, producing a .257/.291/.395 line. Glines was a under slot senior sign but put up impressive numbers at the University of Michigan, hitting .349/.440/.492. Lassiter's performance slipped each year he was at the University of North Carolina until he was finally suspended from the team this past spring. Silverio hit a ton last year in Arizona, going .301/.370/.482, look for him to put up good numbers in Great Falls.

Designated Hitter

Nick Parent (36th round, 2013)

The son of current White Sox bench coach Mark Parent, Nick played briefly at catcher and first base, but now is labeled as a DH. Parent hit .114/.244/.114 back in 2013 before being suspended for a PED violation. He's clear of that now.

Outlook

With Erwin, Cruz, Jarvis, and Rodriguez, Great Falls is an affiliate worth keeping track of. I believe the rotation will be anchored by Erwin, Easterling, and Freudenberg, and they have several interesting relief prospects to help close out games. The lineup should be a strength, as manager Cole Armstrong has a good mix of proven big school college upperclassmen and talented young high schoolers and international players. Great Falls has made the playoffs for eight consecutive years in the Pioneer League and I see no reason why this squad won't make it a ninth.

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