Season in Review: 2019 Great Falls Voyagers

Team: Great Falls Voyagers

League: Pioneer Rookie League

Final record: 34-40, 15-22 (1st half), 19-18 (2nd half)

Final placement: 3rd place in the North Division 

Full Team Stats

The Great Falls Voyagers have made the playoffs in 11 of the past 13 seasons but missed out on the post-season this year. The White Sox's advanced rookie level affiliate finished 15-22 in the first half while struggling out of the gate. The club improved in the 2nd half from a record standpoint by going 19-18. The Voyagers weren't able to defend their 2018 championship this year though as the Idaho Falls Chukars took home the crown.

The Pioneer League is regularly a very friendly offensive environment for hitters. As a team, Great Falls posted an OPS of .696 in 74 games. That was the lowest total in the eight team league and goes hand in hand with their final record. A composite team batting average of .250 put them last in the league as well. The Voyagers posted a .386 slugging percentage which was 7th in the league. Their collective OBP of .310 was also the league's worst mark.

The team struck out 657 times which was the third most in the Pioneer League and they also walked the fewest with a total of 164 on the year. The club also hit just 41 home runs on the season which was easily the lowest total in the entire league.

The pitching staff was middle-of-the-pack with a 4.59 team ERA. The staff surrendered 582 hits and gave up the fewest walks with a total of 166 as well. They also compiled the fewest amount strikeouts in the league with 547 however. The team WHIP ended up at 1.34. The staff gave up 46 home runs which was also the lowest total in the league. Now let's take a look at the individual contributors.

Position Players 

Harvin Mendoza is a 20-year-old Venezuelan first baseman who was a former international signing of the White Sox. The 6'2" 185 pound lefty hit .278/.362/.457 in 62 games with the Voyagers. Mendoza has hit at every level as he's moved up the organizational ladder but his power began to play in the Pioneer League. Harvin hit 6 homers and posted a 114 wRC+ with a .360 wOBA. His .818 OPS was one of the best marks on the team. Mendoza has a promising profile and displayed adequate power potential. He posted an 18.8% strikeout rate with a walk rate of 10%. Mendoza likely will earn himself a promotion to full season ball for 2020.

In addition to Mendoza, there are some other recent international additions on the roster in Montana as well. Luis Mieses and Anderson Comas are outfielders from the 2016 signing class. Catcher Kleyder Sanchez was a member of that class as well. Infielder Camilo Quinteiro was signed last year and outfielder Bryan Connell was acquired in a trade. 22-year-old Cuban infielder Camilo Quinteiro can play multiple positions and posted a 126 wRC+ with the Voyagers before earning a 30 game promotion to Kannapolis. The 5'11" 180 pounder also posted a 132 wRC+ in the AZL last year. Connell is an outfielder that was acquired in a trade with the Brewers last year. The 20-year-old posted a 59 wRC+ with 6 homers in 29 games with Great Falls. The 6'3" 195 pounder posted a 162 wRC+ in rookie ball with Milwaukee in 2018.

Luis Mieses and Anderson Comas are athletic outfielders from the Dominican Republic and they both struggled at the plate in 2019. Mieses is a 19-year-old lefty that posted a 61 wRC+ with the Voyagers this year. The 6'3" 180 pounder hit 4 homers but displays an ultra aggressive approach at the plate. He still possesses an athletic frame but will likely repeat short season next year trying to improve on his .241/.264/.359 batting line. Comas is also 19-years-old and plays all three outfield spots. Anderson hit .222/.251/.351 with a 55 wRC+. The 6'3" 185 pounder hit 2 homers in 54 games after posting a 107 wRC+ in the AZL in 2018. Catcher Kleyder Sanchez is solid defensively but the 19-year-old struggled mightily in 84 plate appearances this year.

Former water polo standout Sam Abbott was an 8th round pick out of high school in 2017. The 20-year-old first baseman hit 9 homers for the Voyagers this year. The 6'4" 225 pound lefty slugger posted a 114 wRC+ with a .359 wOBA in Great Falls. Abbott split time with Mendoza over the course of his 58 games. Abbott strikes out too much at a clip of 36% but walks at a 12% rate still. Abbott should get a chance to break with a full season affiliate next spring. 21-year-old infielder Luis Curbelo was a highly regarded 6th round pick out of a Florida high school back in 2016. The 6'3" 185 pound righty posted a 93 wRC+ in 56 games with Great Falls after big time struggles in A ball. After the demotion, Curbelo hit 8 homers but still struck out an alarming rate. The talent is in there, but time is running out for the infielder.

Six members of the 2019 draft class also spent significant time in Great Falls with the Voyagers. Outfielders Cameron Simmons and Jonathan Allen joined infielders Joshua Rivera and Tom Archer on the squad. Ivan Gonzalez and Jakob Goldfarb were members of the team as well. Simmons was a 20th round selection out of Virginia and came with some pedigree. The 6'4" 200 pound outfielder posted a 181 wRC+ with a .468 wOBA and earned himself a promotion to Low-A Kannapolis. Cameron hit 3 homers in the SAL with a wRC+ of 100 in 116 plate appearances. Allen was a 32nd rounder that struggled with both rookie affiliates but still ended his season in Winston-Salem with the Dash.

Ivan Gonzalez was an 8th round pick of West Virginia in 2019 and the 5'9" backstop has been lauded for game calling skills. The 22-year-old hit .459/.545/.568 in the AZL before his 22 games of struggles in the Pioneer League. 24th rounder Jakob Goldfarb played some catcher and outfield as well for Great Falls after playing solid baseball in the AZL. 20-year-old 2B Joshua Rivera struck out at a 30% rate after being taken in the 19th round and Tom Archer collected minimal playing time at both rookie league affiliates.

Four members of the 2018 draft class spent their first full pro seasons in Great Falls as well. Ty Greene was the lone college performer and the former 16th rounder played well in his 23 games. The 22-year-old left handed hitter slashed .325/.381/.403 with a 113 wRC+ in the Pioneer League. As a catcher with some hitting ability, Greene should start with a full season affiliate in 2020. Some of the highly regarded prep picks from the 2018 draft class struggled with the bat in the league however. Former 4th rounder Lency Delgado played on the infield for the Voyagers. The 20-year-old from south Florida hit .274/.325/.377 but posted a staggering 37.5% strikeout rate. Delgado is big and physical at 6'3" 215 pounds but he needs to alter his aggressive approach at the dish.

Georgia prep outfielder Cabera Weaver was a 7th rounder of the Sox in 2018. Known for his defensive skills and speed, Weaver posted a 112 wRC+ in the AZL last season. The 19-year-old struggled in 62 games in Great Falls though. The right handed hitter and thrower posted an 85 wRc+ with a strikeout rate of close to 33% but did hit two homers on the season. Puerto Rican Kelvin Maldonado was an over-slot 11th rounder in 2018 and he struggled in 241 plate appearances after also having trouble in the AZL last year. Kelvin can adequately play multiple infield positions however.

Pitchers

13 throwers from the 2019 draft class pitched in some fashion for the Great Falls Voyagers. 15th rounder Caleb Freeman ($150K), 18th rounder Sammy Peralta ($125K) and 14th rounder McKinley Moore ($100K) were the draft picks with the highest bonus amounts on the roster. Freeman is a 21-year-old righty from Texas Tech who was a draft favorite of former scouting director Nick Hostetler. Freeman struggled during his college season but thrived on the cape with White Sox's brass observing. Caleb posted a 2.63 ERA with a 3.90 FIP in 13.2 innings with the AZL White Sox. He also threw 6.2 innings with the Voyagers and posted an ERA of 0.00 with a 0.90 FIP while averaging 16 K/9. Freeman even pitched 4 innings with Kannapolis to close out his season.

Sammy Peralta is a 21-year-old southpaw from the University of Tampa. The 6'2" 205 pounder posted a 2.37 ERA while averaging 13.35 K/9 in 30.1 innings in the AZL. Peralta also threw just over 6 innings in Great Falls and posted an ERA of 0.00 with a 1.58 FIP and averaged 18 K/9. McKinley Moore is a 6'6" 225 pound right hander out of Arkansas Little-Rock. The 21-year-old throws very hard as well. Moore posted a 5.59 ERA over 19.1 innings in the AZL but reports on his stuff and repertoire were inspiring. He averaged 12.57 K/9 with 7.9 BB/9 in Arizona. McKinley posted a 0.00 ERA with a 0.72 FIP in 3 innings with Great Falls to close out the year. These three all have high leverage upside and should start the 2020 season in the Intimidators' bullpen in Kannapolis.

Dan Metzdorf is a 23-year-old southpaw from Boston College. He was a 5th round selection of the White Sox this year. Metzdorf is a crafty left-handed starter who posted a 3.60 ERA with a miniscule walk rate in 40 innings with the Voyagers. Avery Weems is a 22-year-old left hander from Arizona. He was the club's 6th rounder this year and he posted a 0.69 ERA in 13 innings with Great Falls. Avery also averaged 11 K/9 in 47.1 innings in the AZL as well. Karan Patel was the team's 7th rounder out of Texas-San Antonio. The 22-year-old righty posted a 3.90 ERA with a 2.85 FIP in 32.1 innings in the Pioneer League. Righties Nate Pawelcyk (10th round), Chase Solesky (21st round), Pauly Milto (23rd round), Hansen Butler (25th round), Kaleb Roper (29th round) and Connor Reich (31st round) were members of the most recent draft class as well. 33rd round southpaw Trey Jeans and un-drafted free agent Allan Beer joined this staff too.

Ramon Pineda is the younger brother of Minnesota Twins' starter Michael Pineda. He was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2016 and is 21-years-old. In 24.1 innings pitched, the 6'3" righty posted a 2.22 ERA and a 3.64 FIP while averaging 8.5 K/9. Pineda struck out 23 while walking 8 in 17 games. Brayan Herrera was signed as a member of the 2016 international class as well. The 6'2" 185 pound right hander posted a 4.22 xFIP over 13.2 innings. The 21-year-old is averaging 8.5 K/9 and 1.32 BB/9. 20-year-old righty Yoelvin Silven pitched 7 innings for the Voyagers after posting a 3.48 ERA in 44 innings in the AZL. Silven has struck out 51 while walking 5.  Sean Thompson and Jason Morgan are big righties that ate lots of innings in Great Falls this year with totals of 80 and 75 innings respectively. Jack Maynard was another right hander who received time.

Looking Forward to 2019

Pioneer League fans and Great Falls observers don't often get used to seeing the same players repeat this level very often. The nature of this team and league is that it's generally comprised of recent college draft picks and former international signings. Most of the college pitching talent from this roster will move on to a full season affiliate in 2020. There could be some familiar faces on the position player side returning to the great state of Montana though.

Lency Delgado, Cabera Weaver, Kelvin Maldonado, Anderson Comas and Luis Mieses are some candidates to return to short season next year. These players were moved aggressively this year to accommodate even younger talent in the AZL though so some of these guys could face similar circumstances next year. It will be tough for some of these players to repeat the Pioneer League again when there are multiple candidates in need of a promotion.

DJ Gladney (16th rounder in 2019), Bryan Ramos and Jose Rodriguez are candidates to advance from the Arizona League affiliate. With that being said, many of the players on the next Great Falls' team aren't even in the White Sox organization currently. The bulk of that roster will be selected using the 40 rounds of next June's amateur draft. It will be very interesting to see which players break camp with a full season affiliate next year and who that leaves to play in short season rookie ball once again. 

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