WINNIPEG, MB – The Winnipeg Goldeyes acquired nine players in the American Association dispersal draft on Tuesday.
The draft pool included all players whose contracts and/or rights were held by the six American Association teams suspending operations due to the COVID-19 Pandemic (Cleburne Railroaders, Gary SouthShore RailCats, Kansas City T-Bones, Lincoln Saltdogs, Sioux City Explorers, and Texas AirHogs).
Winnipeg’s nine selections include former Major League infielder Darnell Sweeney (Round 1, Kansas City), right-handed pitcher Frank Duncan (Round 2, Kansas City), outfielder Jordan George (Round 3, Kansas City), infielder Thomas Walraven (Round 4, Gary SouthShore), catcher Roy Morales (Round 5, Kansas City), right-handed pitcher Kent Hasler (Round 6, Sioux City), left-handed pitcher Mason Melotakis (Round 7, Cleburne), right-handed pitcher Ryan Flores (Round 8, Sioux City), and catcher John Nester (Round 9, Cleburne).
The draft followed a standard format with two minutes between selections, and concluded once all six participating teams passed. The order was determined in reverse order of the 2019 regular season winning percentages. 42 total players were selected.
Teams must still agree to terms with each player, and all players will be returned to their outgoing club at the conclusion of the 2020 season. American Association teams may carry up to 30 players during spring training (increased from 28 in previous seasons), which begins June 25th. The 30-player maximum must be met by 12:00 p.m. on Friday, June 19th.
Sweeney hit .288 with a .430 on-base percentage and a .538 slugging percentage in 23 games for the T-Bones last season before having his contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Hollywood, Florida native went on to appear in 45 games for the Double-A Eastern League’s Altoona Curve and the Triple-A International League’s Indianapolis Indians. Sweeney reached the Major Leagues in 2015 with the Philadelphia Phillies, and again in 2018 with the Toronto Blue Jays.
Duncan was 10-6 with a 3.05 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 132.2 innings last season for the Can-Am League’s Sussex County Miners. The 28-year-old right-hander ranked tied for second in the Can-Am League in wins, third in ERA, third in strikeouts, and first in innings pitched (132.2). Duncan was drafted by the Pirates in the 13th round in 2014 out of the University of Kansas (Lawrence, Kansas), and has reached the Triple-A level twice in his career.
George signed with the T-Bones last July and appeared in one game before having his contract purchased by the Kansas City Royals. The switch-hitting George finished out the season with a .275 batting average and .411 on-base percentage for the Double-A Texas League’s Northwest Arkansas Naturals. George was drafted by the Pirates in the 35th round in 2015 out of Arkansas State University (Jonesboro, Arkansas), and owns a career .281 average and .394 on-base percentage.
Walraven’s 1.9 wins above replacement (WAR) tied for third among American Association rookies last year. The Pine Bush, New York native batted .300 with 10 doubles, six home runs, 31 RBI, and 35 walks (.409 on-base percentage) as a true rookie for the RailCats. Walraven played four years of college baseball at the University of New Haven (West Haven, Connecticut) where he hit a combined .323 for the Chargers from 2014-18, and ranks seventh in program history in base hits.
Morales hit .310 with three home runs and 25 RBI in 60 games for the T-Bones last year, helping Kansas City win the American Association South Division. A native of Lares, Puerto Rico, Morales has cut down 30 percent of opposing base stealers during his six-year professional career. The Miami Marlins drafted Morales out of high school in the 12th round in 2014, and the 24-year-old has a lifetime .350 on-base percentage.
Hasler signed with the Explorers on June 1st, and posted a 2.01 ERA in 38 relief appearances last season for the Frontier League’s Lake Erie Crushers. Hasler earned seven saves and struck out 33 percent of the batters he faced (89 strikeouts in 67.0 innings pitched). The 24-year-old had his contract purchased this off-season by the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Melotakis last pitched in 2018 where he reached the Triple-A level with both the Minnesota Twins’ and Colorado Rockies’ organizations. A former second round pick of the Twins in 2012, Melotakis (pronounced mel-oh-TAH-kiss) finished with an ERA of 3.22 or lower in five consecutive seasons beginning in 2012. The Bloomington, Indiana native has averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings during his six-year career.
Flores ranks third in American Association history with 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings (minimum 180.0 innings pitched), and combined for 53 punch outs in 42.1 frames in 2019 for the Sioux Falls Canaries and Sioux City Explorers. During his true rookie season for the Explorers in 2017, Flores led all American Association relievers with 83 strikeouts. The Kerrville, Texas native played two years at Richland College (Dallas, Texas) from 2015-16.
Nester was voted the American Association’s top catcher in 2019, hitting .277 with 16 home runs, and 63 RBI in 85 games for the Railroaders. Behind the plate, the Huntington, West Virginia native threw out 34 percent of potential base stealers, which ranked third in the American Association. Nester led the league with a 44 percent mark in 2015 while playing for the Wichita Wingnuts, and has a 30 percent career rate in eight seasons of professional baseball. Nester was drafted by the Oakland Athletics in the 39th round in 2010 out of Clemson University (Clemson, South Carolina), and served as the San Diego Padres’ roving catching instructor from 2016-17.
Dispersal Selections by Outgoing Team
Gary SouthShore: 3
Kansas City: 17
Sioux City: 9
Additionally, the American Association has granted an expanded roster for the first 10 days of the regular season. Teams may carry up to 25 players until July 13th before trimming down to the standard 23-man roster. Should a team carry 25 players during the 10-day window, at least 13 of them must be pitchers.
The Winnipeg Goldeyes will play the 2020 season exclusively on the road and open their schedule on July 3rd against the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks. Additional details regarding game times and broadcast information will be available in the coming days.