14 Voyagers Move Up to Kannapolis… Let’s Dive In

2011 Pioneer League Pitcher of the Year Blair Walters

The rosters for all the full season teams across minor league baseball, and that means our A-ball South Atlantic League friends in Kannapolis, NC have 25 players to wear their jersey as they open on Thursday. As you would expect, most of the team is filled with Voyagers. In fact, 17 players on the Intimidators roster are ex-Voyagers, including 14 ballplayers moving up to Kannapolis for the first time.

First off, you can take a look at the full roster  and press release here. Take a moment to look at the names the Intimidators will be playing with this year – it’s obviously a lot of guys Great Falls fans have come to know.

First off, Intimidators fans should be very excited: the entire core of the 2011 Voyagers – a championship team – has come to Kannapolis. While it’s always a little sad for Great Falls fans to see the guys go, that’s the nature – and fun – of minor league baseball.  Soon enough we’ll have own our own new crop of guys here in Great Falls, and we’ll get to watch all the former Voyagers thrive in Kannapolis and beyond. Of course, we’ll keep a close eye on how things are going for those guys as the season goes on.

Seven of the former Voyagers are pitchers, and all 7 are getting their first action at the A-ball level. Blair Walters leads the list of advancing Voyagers, and Great Falls fans know exactly why. The six foot tall lefty from the University of Hawaii signed with the White Sox after being drafted in the 11th round, was immediately sent to the Voyagers, and proceeded to rack up nonstop wins in the Pioneer League. A 9-0 record in 13 starts is impressive enough, but a deeper look his Walters’ numbers paints a more compelling picture of his domination. Perhaps most impressive was Blair’s 72 to 17 strikeout to walk ratio in 73.2 innings. Nearly a full strikeout per inning and 4.2 K’s per walk – 2 or 3 K’s per walk is considered a very solid number in the pros – are both the types of numbers ace pitchers put up in the major leagues. With those kinds of numbers from a lefty, Kannapolis fans might soon feel the same sting Voyagers fan are now as Walters continues to shoot up the White Sox system.

Stew Brase is another interesting name getting his first crack at full-season ball. An undrafted free agent from Charleston Southern in the Big South Conference, Brase came to Great Falls with something to prove last year. Brase quickly showed the rest of baseball what they’d missed out on as a reliever and spot starter for the Voyagers, as he put up 29 strikeouts in 31.2 innings while allowing only 12 walks. Perhaps even more impressively, he did a great job of keeping hitters on the ground as he got 2.4 times as many groundouts and flyouts, a very good ratio. The combination of ground balls and missed bats is a very potent one, so perhaps the 23 year old from Indianapolis is a sleeper to watch as he faces older competition this year.

Scott Snodgress should be fun for Voyagers fans watch rise up the system as well. Any left that tall – Snodgress stands at an imposing 6’ 6” – promises an intriguing future, but the 22 year-old 5th round pick put up serious production for the Voyagers as well. A 68/17 K/BB ratio in 59.1 innings and an excellent 3.34 ERA are numbers worth noting even from a player that doesn’t have Snodgress’ large frame or high fastball potential. When you consider these numbers were posted by a guy scouting services have described as “raw for a college pitcher,” you know you have to take note. Snodgress has legitimate upside, and there’s definitely a reason why he’s usually placed in the White Sox top 10 or 15 prospects by various rankings.

Jarrett Casey, Steve McCray, Brandon Parrent, and Kevin Vance round out last year’s Voyager pitchers who are now donning Kannapolis red, and we certainly wish them all luck.

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the 10 position players the Voyagers have sent to the Intimidators. Later this week, I’ll start to peek further up the ladder in the system to see how Voyagers from a few years ago have fared. After that, we can start to guess which Voyagers might be back for the start of the season – there’s a few left on roster that Great Falls fans seem to have a good shot of seeing again.

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