2019 Affiliate Preview: Great Falls Voyagers

The Great Falls Voyagers opened their season Friday, June 14th at home against Missoula. The Pioneer League affiliate is one of two rookie-level clubs in the White Sox organization. The team in Montana typically is populated with the more polished rookie leaguers, often recent college draft choices (the younger, prep and less polished prospects usually go to the AZL team first). The Voyagers are usually a very competitive team in their league and go to the playoffs on a nearly annual basis. The 2018 club won the Pioneer League Championship.

The 2019 roster features 10 players from the 2019 draft and 6 players are returning to repeat with the Voyagers and attempt to defend the 2018 Pioneer League crown. Multiple players from the 2018 draft class as well as recent international signees will be making their homes at Centene Field as well.

For the 2019 draftees on the roster, check out our constantly evolving draft tracker for more information.

The club will be managed by Tim Esmay for the 3rd consecutive season. John Ely will serve as the team's pitching coach with Cameron Seitzer getting his first crack at an affiliated coaching job as the hitting instructor. Tyler Gniadek will return to the Voyagers staff as the Conditioning Coach. Gerson Montilla will serve in his first year as an assistant coach and Carson Wooten will be the first year athletic trainer. Now let's focus on the players inhabiting the 2019 roster.

Infielders

The Great Falls Voyagers are carrying 7 infielders on their initial roster and the coaching staff will have to juggle playing time to get everyone involved on a consistent basis. Lency Delgado was a 4th round pick out of a Miami area high school in 2018. He's joining the Voyagers after struggling in 38 games for the AZL White Sox last season. The shortstop has big power potential and will be 20-years-old later this month. Delgado is 6"3" and 215 pounds and should play multiple infield spots. Joining him in Montana and from his draft class as well will be 19-year-old Kelvin Maldonado. Maldonado was given an over-slot bonus out of Puerto Rico last year and went on to make 128 plate appearances in the AZL. Kelvin can play 2B and SS and has plenty of room to add weight to his 5'11" 160 pound frame. Both players struggled in their first taste of pro ball and the development staff is obviously comfortable with the looks they've gotten in extended spring training.

Harvin Mendoza and Brayant Nova were both members of the White Sox's 2015 international signing class. Both players are now 20-year-old and getting an opportunity to perform at the Advanced Rookie League level. Mendoza is a 6'2" 185 pound first baseman. Over 39 games in the AZL last season, the lefty slugger hit .314/.381/.409 with a 125 wRC+. He will split time at 1B and DH for the Voyagers. Nova is a switch hitting infielder that really struggled with the bat in 2018. The 6'1" 170 pounder played much better in 2017 when he posted a 122 wRc+ with solid defense at the Low-Rookie affiliate.

Sharing first base duties with Mendoza will be lefty slugger Sam Abbott. Abbott was an 8th round pick of the White Sox back in 2016. He has big power that caused the organization to buy him out of a college commitment to play water polo. The 6'4" 225 pounder has spent two seasons in the AZL and hit 3 homers with 12 RBI in 95 plate appearances last year. Abbott only hit .139 on the season but posted an OBP of .347. 22-year-old infielder Camilo Quinteiro was an international signing out of Cuba and he finished the season with the Voyagers. Prior to joining Great Falls, he slashed .286/.436/.320 with a 132 wRc+ in the AZL. The 5'11" 180 infielder can play 2B and SS. Rounding out the group will be 2019 19th rounder Joshua Rivera. A native of Puerto Rico, Rivera attended Chipola Community College in Florida. The 5'11" shortstop hit .317/.410/.481 in his final season.

Catchers

The trio of catchers for the Voyagers will comprise of a 2018 draft pick, a 2019 draft pick and a well regarded international signing from the 2016 class. Kleyder Sanchez was a $50K signing from the large international class of 2016. He has good hands and quick feet and started in his native Venezuela as an outfielder. The 19-year-old struggled at the dish in 2018 playing in the Arizona Rookie League. The 5'7" 170 pound backstop posted a 127 wRC+ in the DSL back in 2017 however. Ty Greene was a 16th round selection of the White Sox in 2018 and was a member of the Baseball America Top 500 before the draft. Greene is a left-handed hitter and spent his time in Arizona as well last year. The 22-year-old is adept at working counts and showed it with a wOBA of .379 with a 127 wRC+. The former Golden Bear has some upside and should receive most of the work behind the plate. 2019 24th rounder Jakob Goldfarb is the last member of this catching troika. Jakob was the primary catcher at Oregon and has some outfield experience as well. The lefty hit .306/.415/.435 in his career with the Ducks.

Outfielders

The outfield is the most intriguing position group on the squad in 2019 and is loaded with upside potential. Cabera Weaver was selected out of a Georgia high school in the 7th round of the 2018 draft. The 19-year-old righty showed a 10% walk rate while posting a 112 wRC+ in 50 games in the AZL last year. Weaver is 6'3" and 180 pounds and displays good size, athleticism and top scale speed to potentially stay in centerfield  long term. He can be a difference maker defensively but the offensive upside shown in his first campaign offers promise as well. Bryan Connell is a 20-year-old Panamanian that was acquired from the Milwaukee Brewers late last season. The 6'3" 195 pound corner outfielder shows power potential. Connell was signed by the Brewers for $180K back in 2015.

Anderson Comas and Luis Mieses were both part of the 2016 international signing class for the Sox. Both players were signed out of the Dominican Republic and both showed interesting traits in the lower minors. Now they head to Advanced Rookie Ball together. Comas is a 19-year-old with a calm and easy left-handed swing. The 6'3" 185 pounder is probably a corner outfielder but he posted a .300 average with a 107 wRC+ in Arizona last year. He signed for $425K. Luis Mieses signed for $428K and has a projectable frame with a plus throwing arm. The power potential is there but he struggled in 48 games at the dish in 2018. Mieses is also left-handed and will also likely fit best as a corner outfielder.

Cameron Simmons is the only 2019 draft pick that should see some time in the Great Falls' outfield. The 6'4" 200 pounder was selected in the 20th round out of Virginia and he's a very interesting prospect. Simmons was named 2nd Team All ACC as a Sophomore and had some success on the cape. He looked like a future 1st rounder but missed all of 2018 with an injury. Cameron hit .352/.432/.563 during that stellar Sophomore campaign.

Pitchers

There are 16 pitchers on the roster and the roles that they occupy aren't indicative of the roles they might fill in the future. Most of the college pitchers from the 2019 draft class just pitched an entire college season and will likely be on innings restrictions. There are 4 hurlers returning from last year's squad and they'll be joined by 7 pitchers from the most recent draft class. Righties Nick Johnson, Jack Maynard, Carter Love and lefty Rigo Fernandez are returning to Great Falls. Johnson was a 21st rounder in 2018 and threw 30 innings in the Pioneer League. The 6'3" 215 pound right hander posted a 0.90 ERA. Maynard is a 22-year-old righty that posted a 3.00 ERA in 39 innings last year. He was a 25th round selection in 2018. The 6'6" 225 pound Love was signed as a free agent and posted a 2.43 xFIP in the AZL last year. He finished up with a brief stint in Montana. Fernandez is the only southpaw of the group and was a 24th round pick last year. The 21-year-old only threw 4 innings for the Voyagers but posted a 1.87 ER with over 10 K/9 in Arizona.

Lefty Dan Metzdorf (5th round) is the highest drafted member from the most recent class. The 5'10" 165 pound southpaw was a three year starter at Boston College. Metzdorf was a 3rd Team All-American as a senior. In 82.1 innings, he posted a 2.30 ERA with 72 strikeouts and 32 walks in the ACC. 7th rounder Karan Patel is a 6'0" 205 pound right hander from Texas San Antonio. He uses a low 90's fastball and posted a 2.84 ERA with 104K and 36BB in 92 innings as a senior. He's also a member of the United States National Cricket Team. 10th rounder Nate Pawelczyk is a 6'1" 190 pound righty that pitched at Winthrop. He also shows a low 90's fastball and posted a 3.90 ERA with 83K and 29BB in 92.1 innings as a senior.

They will be joined by other members of the 2019 draft class. Chase Solesky, Pauly Milto, Kaleb Roper and Connor Reich are four right handers that were taken on day three. Solesky was a 21st rounder from Tulane who posted 70 strikeouts and 33 walks in 73.2 innings as a redshirt sophomore. He missed the 2018 season after posting a 3.64 ERA as a freshman. His former Green Wave teammate Kaleb Roper is on the Voyagers' roster as well. The 6'0" 193 pound righty was a 29th round pick as a 5th year senior. In 88 innings, he posted 90K and 31BB with a 4.60 ERA. Pauly Milto was a 23rd rounder out of Indiana. The 6'3" 245 pound senior dropped off this past season and still posted a 3.45 ERA. Milto was Third Team All B1G as a sophomore with a 3.92 ERA. He was Second Team All B1G as a junior as well. 31st rounder Connor Reich was First Team All Sun-Belt after pitching at Texas State. He posted a 4.47 ERA with 90K and 21BB.

Sean Thompson opened the season for the Voyagers last night after throwing 36.1 innings in the AZL last year. The 23-year-old righty was signed as an UDFA out of Virginia Commonwealth after the 2018 draft. He posted a 3.68 ERA with an xFIP of 3.76 in rookie ball. Jason Morgan was selected in the 35th round out of North Carolina in last year's class. He missed the 2018 season with an injury but will likely join the Voyagers' bullpen this year. He's a 6'5" 23-year-old right hander. Felix Mercedes was signed as part of the 2015 international class and played multiple years on the position player side in the White Sox's system. He's converting to the mound for Great Falls this year. The two pitchers with the most upside were both part of the 2016 international class though. 21-year-old righty Ramon Pineda was signed out of the Dominican Republic for $10K. The 6'3" 200 pounder is the brother of Twins' pitcher Michael Pineda and he shows an easy arm action with little effort. Pineda posted a 3.76 ERA in the DSL in 2017 but struggled in the AZL last year. 21-year-old Brayan Herrera was signed out of the Dominican for $70K. The 6'2" 185 pound righty gets his fastball up to 95 mph with a hard slider. Herrera posted a 2.62 ERA in the DSL in 2017 and a 2.70 ERA in 56.2 innings in the AZL last year.

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