The Voyagers were the first White Sox affiliate to be knocked out of the playoffs after last night’s 4-2 loss to the Missoula Osprey. It took some late heroics in game two, a walk off homer by Adam Heisler to turn a one-run deficit into a one-run win in the bottom of the ninth, to force the deciding game in the best-of-three North Division Championship Series in the Pioneer League playoffs. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough and the Voyagers were unable to defend their 2011 league title.
Great Falls wasn’t loaded with prospects since the White Sox went against a recent trend and took more high schoolers early in the draft. Those players (Courtney Hawkins, Keon Barnum, Nick Basto and Jose Barraza among others) along with third rounder Joey DeMichele were initially assigned to Bristol. That left the Voyagers with fewer prospects that we’ve seen in recent years. Still, they were able to win the first half division title to earn the playoff spot and finished 40-36 in the regular season.
Infielder Micah Johnson probably earned the most respect as a prospect on the hitting side. He posted a .273/.375/.391 line, which isn’t by itself impressive but there are other reasons to take note of him. The second baseman was a ninth round pick out of Indiana that hit .335 as a sophomore and was getting noticed on draft boards. Unfortunately he missed most of his crucial junior year with an elbow injury and wasn’t able to get back into the Hoosiers’ lineup regularly. To see him healthy and showing some ability is encouraging. He could be a sleeper next year.
20th rounder Zachary Voight posted the highest OPS on the team (.975), but only played in 20 games. He showed only moderate power, but walked 26 times against 16 strikeouts in 90 plate appearances. At the very least those numbers indicate that he could be valuable to the A ball teams in the future.
Others included Kyle Robinson (repeated rookie ball outside of a rough 10-game stint with Kannapolis), Yoandy Barroso (a 23-year-old who went undrafted), Brent Tanner (a catcher repeating rookie ball) and Thomas McCarthy (18th round pick this June). They’ll need to produce much further up the levels to gain any value.
The Voyagers had a league best 4.11 ERA thanks largely to a strong bullpen filled with college experience and non-rookies. There were a few pitching prospects of note though.
The headliner was second round pick Chris Beck. Like Johnson, he had a great sophomore year that had him higher on draft boards before a disappointing junior campaign. He posted decent enough numbers to give hope of improvement in 2013. A 36:12 strikeout to walk ratio is always welcome, although opponents hit .319 off Beck in his 40.1 innings.
Fourth round pick Brandon Brennan (4.34 ERA, 31 K, 16 BB in 37.1 IP) was fairly uninspiring, but it’s hard to judge college starters in rookie ball. Meanwhile, 2011 over slot signee Brandon Parrent seemed to regress from his 2011 numbers.
2010 third rounder Thomas Royse made a notable return this summer. His numbers weren’t special, though 14 K against 2 BB in 20.2 IP is nice, but it marked his return following Tommy John Surgery that kept him out of action in 2011.