CURVE, Pa. - The Altoona Curve announced their 25-man roster to begin the 2016 season on Monday, which has been set by the Pittsburgh Pirates. The roster includes 13 position players, 12 pitchers and five of Baseball America's Top 30 Pirates prospects.
The roster features 13 returning players who spent time with the Curve in 2015, as well as new faces in top prospects Harold Ramirez and Reese McGuire.
Eastern League All-Star pitcher Jason Creasy returns for a second year with Altoona. After leading the team with 12 wins a season ago, Creasy should be joined in the starting rotation by lefty Cody Dickson and right-handers Tyler Eppler, Clay Holmes and David Whitehead.
Eppler joined the Curve for one regular-season start in 2015 after cruising to a 2.58 ERA in 14 games with A-Adv. Bradenton. Dickson led the Marauders last year with 12 wins, and he was joined briefly in the Bradenton rotation by Holmes, who missed the first half of the season. Whitehead spent last year in the Phillies organization and was traded to the Pirates during the offseason for right-hander Charlie Morton.
In the bullpen, the Curve pitching staff will be rounded out by returners Montana DuRapau, John Kuchno, Brett McKinney, Jhondaniel Medina and Josh Smith, as well as newcomers Jared Lakind and Dovydas Neverauskas.
The battery mates for these pitchers to begin the 2016 campaign will be a pair of catchers new to Altoona in McGuire and Jin-De Jhang. McGuire enters the year as Baseball America's sixth-best Pirates prospect. Jhang, a native of Taiwan, spent each of the last two seasons with Bradenton.
The Curve return first baseman Jose Osuna, second baseman Erich Weiss and third baseman Eric Wood to the infield from a season ago. Osuna finished last year tied for third in the Pirates' minor league system with 12 total home runs and led the organization with 81 total RBIs. Wood spent the season as the Curve's everyday third baseman, and Weiss was a Florida State League Post-Season All-Star and earned a late-season promotion to Altoona.
New infielders for the Curve in 2016 include shortstop Chris Diaz and first baseman Edwin Espinal, both members of the Marauders last season, and third baseman Anderson Feliz, who played for the independent Lancaster Barnstormers last year after six seasons in the New York Yankees' system.
The Curve return outfielders Barrett Barnes, Stetson Allie and Jon Schwind from 2015. A first-round pick by the Pirates in 2012, Barnes played a career-best 95 games last year while splitting time between Bradenton and Altoona. Schwind returns to the Curve after missing all but 22 games last year following an injury. Allie returns for his third season with the Curve and currently ranks fourth in franchise history with 38 career home runs.
Ramirez joins Double-A for the first time in his career this season after hitting .337 in 80 games with Bradenton last season. Another new face, Justin Maffei, rounds out the outfield portion of the Curve roster.
Ramirez (5), McGuire (6), Holmes (19), Barnes (24) and Osuna (30) are ranked in Baseball America's Top 30 Pirates prospects.
The Curve open the 2016 on Thursday at 6 p.m. at Peoples Natural Gas Field against the Harrisburg Senators. The first 5,000 fans will take home a 2015 Curve Jersey Magnet Schedule courtesy of Sprint. A Double Fireworks show will follow the game, and it will also be the first Throwback Thursday of the season, featuring 1999 Curve jerseys, $1 Kunzler hot dogs and drink specials.
For tickets and more information, call 877.99.CURVE, visit AltoonaCurve.com or stop by the box office at Peoples Natural Gas Field.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.