CURVE, Pa. - The Altoona Curve are pleased to announce their tentative 25-man roster for the 2015 season, which was set by the Pittsburgh Pirates earlier today. The roster features, 13 position players, 12 pitchers and five of the Top-30 prospects in the Pirates' system according to Baseball America.
Headlining the roster is RHP Tyler Glasnow, who enters the 2015 season as the top prospect in the Pirates' organization according to Baseball America. Glasnow also checks in as the 16th-best overall prospect in all of baseball by BA and the 13th-best overall by MLB.com entering 2015. Last season with Bradenton, Glasnow went 12-5 with a 1.74 ERA in 23 starts en route to being named the Florida State League Pitcher of the Year. The Newhall, Calif. native was also tabbed as the Pirates' Minor League Pitcher of the Year by the organization for a second straight season.
He enters 2015 with a career record of 21-11 with a 1.94 ERA in 59 games (58 starts) and 365 career strikeouts. Over the last two seasons, Glasnow has amassed a total of 321 of those 365 strikeouts. The 321 punchouts are second most for any pitcher in Minor League Baseball in the last two seasons behind Red Sox farmhand Henry Owens (339). His 1.74 ERA and .174 opponent's batting average against in 2014 led the Florida State League.
Glasnow will be joined by fellow heralded prospect Josh Bell, who enters the 2015 campaign as the fourth-best prospect in the Pirates' system according to Baseball America. Bell, who was the Pirates' Player of the Year in 2014, returns to Altoona in 2015 and will play first base after converting to the position during the Arizona Fall League. Bell spent 24 games with the Curve in 2014, hitting .287 with two doubles and seven RBI.
Joining Bell on the infield will be returnees Dan Gamache and Gift Ngoepe, who both suited up for the team in 2014. They'll be joined by new Curve members Max Moroff, Edward Salcedo and Eric Wood. Behind the dish the Curve will welcome in two entirely new catchers in Sebastian Valle and Jacob Stallings. Valle is in his first season in the Pirates' system after spending his prior years as a heralded prospect in the Phillies minor league system. Stallings made a guest appearance at the end of the season with the 2012 Curve shortly after being drafted but will be in his first full stay in Curve, Pa. this season.
In the outfield, the Curve return three players that will be looked upon to lead the offense in 2015. Outfielder Willy Garcia, who set the franchise record with 19 outfield assists in 2014, returns to the Double-A level and is scheduled to play left field when the season begins. In his rookie season at Double-A, Garcia caught fire the second part of the season by hitting .314 after the All-Star break. He tied a career-high with 18 home runs in 2014 and drove in 63 for the Curve while finishing the year hitting .271.
Complimenting Garcia in the outfield will be Keon Broxton, who returns to Altoona in 2015 after spending the entire 2014 season in a Curve uniform. Like Garcia, Broxton had a terrific second half of the campaign, batting .349 in 26 games during the month of August. The Lakeland, Fla. native mashed 15 home runs in 2014 (the second highest total in his career) and hit eight of those after the All-Star Break. He is expected to patrol centerfield for the club on Opening Night in Harrisburg.
Rounding out the potential starting outfield will be Stetson Allie, who's making the conversion to right field after spending the last few years as a first baseman. Allie tied his career high in home runs in 2014 with 21 and was the first Curve player to hit 20+ homers in a single season since 2005. In the last two seasons, Allie has belted a combined 42 home runs.
Also slated to see time in the outfield will be Jonathan Schwind, who played a solid 47 games last season with Bradenton in an injury-shortened year, and Junior Sosa, who played 12 games for the Curve in 2014 before an injury sidelined him for the remainder of the 2014 season.
Possibilities to join Glasnow in the Curve's starting rotation will be RHP Jason Creasy, LHP Zack Dodson, RHP Chad Kuhl and RHP Angel Sanchez. Creasy, 22, was an eighth-round pick in the 2011 draft out of Clayton (N.C.) High School and was 8-9 with a 3.93 ERA in 28 games (27 starts) for Bradenton in 2015. Dodson spent last year with the Curve, making 23 starts, while Kuhl led all Pirates minor leaguers in wins (13) and his 3.46 ERA was seventh-best in the FSL in 2014.
Sanchez, 25, was a part of four different organizations in 2015 and ended the year in the rotation for the Curve. In his five starts (six games) with the Curve, Sanchez was 0-2 with a 4.32 ERA. Following the season, he participated in the Arizona Fall League and turned in a good showing, posting a 2.26 ERA in eight games as a reliever.
In the bullpen the Curve will see a mix of new faces with some returning faces from the 2014 squad. Returning from last year's team will be RHP Matt Benedict, LHP Tom Harlan and RHP Tyler Sample. Joining them will be newcomers RHP Yhonathan Barrios, RHP John Kuchno, RHP Jhondaniel Media and LHP Josh Smith.
Barrios was lights out after a promotion to Bradenton in 2015. In 15 games for the Marauders, the Colombian native posted a 2.25 ERA with 11 saves in 12 opportunities. Medina was virtually un-hittable for Bradenton, going 3-0 with a 0.72 ERA in 35 games with three saves in 2015. Kuchno will be in his first full season in the bullpen after starting last year for Bradenton when he was 8-9 with a 3.56 ERA (26 starts). Smith was another standout in Bradenton's bullpen, going 4-2 with a 1.93 ERA in 35 games plus eight saves.
The five members of the Opening day roster ranked in Baseball America's Top-30 Pirates' prospects are: Glasnow (#1), Bell (#4), Garcia (#12), Allie (#21) and Kuhl (#28).
The Curve open the season at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday in Harrisburg as they duel with the Harrisburg Senators at Metro Bank Park. Altoona returns home for its opener on Thursday, April 16 when the Akron RubberDucks visit PNG Field for a 6 p.m. soiree. The first 5,000 fans for the Curve's home opener will take home a 2015 Magnet Schedule courtesy of Lakemont Park & The Island Waterpark. Postgame fireworks will also follow the home opener on the first Thirsty ThursdayTM of the 2015 season.
For tickets and more information, call 877.99.CURVE, visit AltoonaCurve.com or stop by the box office at Peoples Natural Gas Field.