CURVE, Pa. - The Altoona Curve announced their 25-man roster to begin the 2017 season, which was set by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Wednesday. The roster includes 13 pitchers, 12 position players and four of Baseball America's Top 30 Pirates prospects.
Shortstop Kevin Newman (4), right-handed pitcher Yeudy Garcia (16), left-handed pitcher Brandon Waddell (17) and second baseman Kevin Kramer (21) are all ranked in Baseball America's Top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects list. MLB.com also has Newman (4), Garcia (13), Waddell (19) and Kramer (20) in its Top 30 Pirates prospects list. The roster also features ten returning players who spent time with the Curve in 2016.
Right-hander Alex McRae returns after making 16 appearances (15 starts) for Altoona in 2016 and ranked tied for third among Pirates minor league pitchers in total wins (11) last season between the Curve and Bradenton Marauders. He is scheduled to be the Curve's Opening Day starting pitcher on Thursday night in Harrisburg.
Waddell returns to Altoona's starting rotation after making 20 starts for the club last season following his promotion from A-Adv. Bradenton. He was named as a 2016 MiLB.com Pittsburgh Organizational All-Star. McRae and Waddell will be joined in the starting rotation by right-handers Tanner Anderson, JT Brubaker and Garcia, who each spent last season with the Florida State League-champion Bradenton club.
Anderson made just three starts in his 30 appearances last season between Single-A West Virginia and Bradenton, but opens this year in the rotation.
Garcia enters the year as Baseball America's 16th-best Pirates prospect. He spent 2016 with Bradenton and ranked second in the Florida State League in strikeouts (127) and tied for first in games started (25). He was the Pirates' 2015 Minor League Pitcher of the Year.
Brubaker is projected to make his Double-A debut after finishing tied for fourth among Pirates farmhands in strikeouts (120) last year. He made 26 starts total between West Virginia and Bradenton in 2016.
Eastern League All-Star pitcher Jared Lakind returns to Altoona's bullpen for a second year after pitching for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic last month. He'll be joined in the bullpen by members of the Curve's 2016 club in Miguel Rosario, Montana DuRapau and John Kuchno, as well as newcomers Tate Scioneaux, Sean Keselica , Buddy Borden and Austin Coley .
The battery mates for these pitchers to begin the 2017 campaign will consist of one new face and one familiar one in Zane Chavez and Tomas Morales . Chavez is back in affiliated baseball for the first time since 2014 when he was a member of the Baltimore Orioles organization. He spent last season with the Laredo Lemurs of the independent American Association. Morales returns to Altoona after appearing in 21 games last year during two separate stints with the club.
The Curve return Newman and Edwin Espinal to the infield from a season ago. Espinal was named an Eastern League All-Star in 2016 while Newman led all Pirates minor league players in total batting average (.320).
New infielders for the Curve in 2017 include Kramer, Connor Joe , Wyatt Mathisen , Pablo Reyes and Chase Simpson . All were members of the Florida State League-champion Bradenton Marauders last season.
The Curve return outfielder Elvis Escobar from 2016. He joined Altoona in the second half after playing the first 92 games of the season with Bradenton.
Jordan Luplow and Michael Suchy join Double-A for the first time in their careers this season after winning the Florida State League championship last year with Bradenton. Luplow batted .254 with ten home runs and 54 RBI in 104 games with the Marauders last season, while Suchy hit .246 with seven home runs and 47 RBI in 115 games.
The Curve open the 2017 season on the road tomorrow at 7 p.m. against the Harrisburg Senators. Altoona's first home game will be on Thursday, April 13 against the Akron RubberDucks. Cresson native and finalist on NBC's The Voice, Josh Gallagher, will be on hand for a meet & greet and post-game performance. The first 5,000 fans will take home a 2017 Curve Magnet Schedule courtesy of NAPA, and a Fireworks show will follow the game. It will also be the first Thirstday of the season, presented by Q94, featuring $2 specials on Miller Lite 16 oz. draft beers & regular-size sodas and $1 hot dogs.
For tickets and more information, call 877.99.CURVE, visit AltoonaCurve.com or stop by the Peoples Natural Gas Field offices.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.