CURVE, Pa. - Altoona Curve first baseman Edwin Espinal has been named a recipient of the 2017 Rawlings Gold Glove Award® for defensive excellence, Minor League Baseball and Rawlings Sporting Goods Company, Inc., announced on Tuesday.
Espinal was the only first baseman in the minors this season to post a perfect 1.000 fielding percentage. He played 81 games at first base this season with the Curve, recording 698 putouts and 67 assists. He carried his perfection to Triple-A Indianapolis following a promotion on July 28, playing 27 more games at first base without committing an error.
"I want to thank God for the opportunity to win this award," Espinal said. "I work very hard on my defense where everyone, including my teammates, can notice my effort."
Espinal broke the Altoona record for the best fielding percentage by a first baseman, surpassing the previous mark of .995 set by Justin Howard (2013), Simon Pond (2006) and Josh Bonifay (2005). He also became the first Altoona infielder at any position in team history to post a perfect fielding percentage with at least 75 games played.
"I always work hard on my defense," Espinal said. "My father told me, 'If you're not good at hitting, then you have to play defense, because you can still be the key to the game.
"That's always my mentality. I'm very thankful and proud."
The Rawlings Gold Glove Award® is awarded to nine recipients, one for each position, across players from the 10 domestic-based, full-season Minor Leagues. Each player will receive his own Rawlings Gold Glove Award® modeled after the iconic award given to Major League Baseball's top defensive players.
A 23-year-old native of Mao Valverde, Dominican Republic, Espinal was selected as the Altoona Curve's Most Valuable Player in 2017, while also adding an Eastern League Post-Season All-Star selection as the league's top first baseman and his second consecutive E.L. Mid-Season All-Star nod.
Along with his defensive work, Espinal posted his best offensive season to date, clubbing a career-best 86 RBIs, which led all Pittsburgh minor leaguers, while tallying a career high with 15 homers, tied for fourth in the system. He also posted the best batting average of his career at .294, tied for fourth in the Pirates' system among full-season minor leaguers.
The 2017 Minor League Baseball recipients of the Rawlings Gold Glove Award® are listed below:
1B: Edwin Espinal - Altoona (AA), Indianapolis (AAA)
2B: Scott Kingery - Reading (AA), Lehigh Valley (AAA)
SS: Daniel Castro - Albuquerque (AAA)
3B: Ke'Bryan Hayes - Bradenton (A+)
LF: Tyler Ramirez - Stockton (A+), Midland (AA)
CF: Jacob Hannemann - Tennessee (AA), Iowa (AAA)
RF: Max Murphy - Fort Myers (A+), Chattanooga (AA)
C: Jose Trevino - Frisco (AA)
P: Jordan Kipper - Mobile (AA), Bowie (AA), Norfolk (AAA)
After celebrating their second Eastern League Championship in franchise history, the Altoona Curve will turn their attention to the 2018 campaign with the 20th Season Kick-Off Concert, presented by Sheetz, at Peoples Natural Gas Field this Saturday, featuring country music stars Sawyer Brown and Phil Vassar. The concert begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are on sale now at AltoonaCurve.com, by phone at 877.99.CURVE or in person at the PNG Field box office.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.