Arkansas Travelers first baseman Joey Curletta was named Texas League Player of the Year in a vote of the league's managers, coaches and media members as announced on Wednesday by the Texas League office. Curletta has been a force in the heart of the Travelers lineup throughout the season, often hitting in the cleanup spot and has hit for average, gotten on base and supplied massive power in helping to lead Arkansas into the Texas League Playoffs. At the time of the announcement, he has played in 123 games as a Trav posting a .286/.386/.492 slash line with 22 doubles, 23 home runs, 89 runs batted in and 77 walks. His RBI and walk totals lead the league while he ranks second in homers and third in both on-base and slugging percentage. Additionally, his home run, RBI and walk totals all represent career highs.
Voted as the starting first baseman on the North Division squad at the league's midseason All-Star game, Curletta has provided many dramatic moments this season. He homered in the opening inning of the Travs winner-take-all first half title clinching win at NW Arkansas on June 19. Three times this season he has belted a pair of homers in a game, including July 17 at Tulsa when his second blast put the Travs on top in the ninth inning of an eventual victory. Other homer heroics for Curletta include a tying three-run shot in the ninth inning of comeback win at home over Corpus Christi on April 10 and a go-ahead grand slam on August 11 in the seventh inning of a victory over Midland.
A 24-year old from Phoenix, Arizona, Curletta had played in only 32 games at the Double-A level prior to this season. This year he became the first Traveler to hit 20 or more homers since Randal Grichuk in 2013. He is attempting to become the first Arkansas player to lead the league in homers since Corey Smith in 2008 and the first to lead the TL in runs batted in since Mike Napoli in 2005. The last Trav to be selected as the league's Player of the Year was Alex Yarbrough in 2014. Curletta was acquired by the Seattle Mariners from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for SHP Pat Venditte in March of 2017. He was originally drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the sixth round of the 2012 draft out of Mountain Pointe High School.
Curletta and the Travs are currently on a road trip ending Monday to close out the regular season schedule. They return home next week to begin the Texas League Playoffs. Games one and two of the division series are set for Wednesday September 5 and Thursday September 6 at Dickey-Stephens Park and will start at 6:10 pm. For all the latest information or to purchase tickets for Travs games, log on to travs.com.
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.