CURVE, Pa. - The Altoona Curve, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Pirates, announced their 25-man roster to start the 2019 season on Monday. The roster includes 13 pitchers, 12 position players and four of Baseball America's Top 30 Pirates prospects.Jared Oliva (No. 19), Stephen Alemais (No. 26), Gage Hinsz (No. 28)
CURVE, Pa. - The Altoona Curve, in conjunction with the Pittsburgh Pirates, announced their 25-man roster to start the 2019 season on Monday. The roster includes 13 pitchers, 12 position players and four of Baseball America's Top 30 Pirates prospects.
Jared Oliva (No. 19), Stephen Alemais (No. 26), Gage Hinsz (No. 28) and Dario Agrazal (No. 29) are all ranked in Baseball America's Top 30 Pittsburgh Pirates prospects list. MLB.com also ranks Oliva (No. 12), Alemais (No. 26) and Hinsz (No. 30) in its Top 30 Pirates prospects list.
The Opening Day roster includes starting pitchers Agrazal, Hinsz, James Marvel , Eduardo Vera and Cam Vieaux with relief pitchers Jake Brentz, Vicente Campos , Matt Eckelman , Yeudy Garcia , Angel German , Scooter Hightower , Tate Scioneaux and Pedro Vasquez .
The position players for the 2019 Curve include catchers Jason Delay and Arden Pabst , infielders Alemais, Hunter Owen , Brett Pope , Alfredo Reyes , Jerrick Suiter and Mitchell Tolman as well as outfielders Logan Hill , Bralin Jackson , Bligh Madris and Oliva.
There are 18 players with Double-A experience on the Curve's initial roster, including 15 players that spent time in Altoona during the 2018 season. Agrazal, Alemais, Brentz, Garcia, Hill and Scioneaux all return from the 2018 Opening Day roster.
Agrazal returns to Altoona after 15 outings with the Curve in 2018. He held a 2.79 ERA through the first two months of the season, the seventh-best mark in the Eastern League at the time, and a 3-2 record before he landed on the injured list in late May. Agrazal pitched twice for the Bradenton Marauders before he rejoined the Curve on August 5 and finished the season with a 3.99 ERA. Signed as an international free agent in 2012 out of Panama, Agrazal is scheduled to start for the Curve on Friday in Akron.
Hinsz missed all of last season due to open-heart surgery in May. He returned to the mound last fall with five appearances in the Puerto Rican Winter League. The Pirates drafted Hinsz in the 11th round of the 2014 draft out of Billings West High School. The Montana native will be the first player born in "Big Sky Country" to play for the Curve when he makes his first Double-A start.
Marvel will get the Opening Day nod for the Curve in Akron on Thursday. He won three of his first five Double-A starts after he was promoted from Bradenton in August. Marvel led the Pirates system with three complete games and paced the organization in innings pitched. He also ranked third among Pirates minor leaguers with 12 wins, fourth with 122 strikeouts and fifth with a 3.55 ERA. Marvel was drafted by the Pirates in the 36th round in 2015 out of Duke University.
Vera was a Florida State League All-Star with Bradenton last year before he was promoted to Altoona at the end of May. He went undefeated after the Fourth of July (7-0) last season and ranked third in the Pirates system with a 3.37 ERA and fifth with 11 wins. A native of Merida, Mexico in the Yucatan Peninsula, Vera was an international free agent signee by the Pirates in 2012 and is slated to make his season debut on Saturday in Akron.
Vieaux led the Pirates organization with 13 wins and finished third with 124 strikeouts between Bradenton and Altoona in 2018. His nine wins with the Curve matched a team-high while the Marauders and Curve went a combined 17-8 in games started by Vieaux. The 2018 Altoona Curve Pitcher of the Year was a sixth-round pick by the Pirates out of Michigan State in 2016 and is scheduled to start Sunday in Akron.
Brentz is on Altoona's Opening Day roster for the second straight season. The southpaw from Missouri made 12 outings with the Curve in 2018 before he finished the year with Bradenton. He was acquired by the Pirates in a trade with the Mariners for Arquimedes Caminero in 2016.
Campos spent last year in the Angels organization and with Sugar Land in the Atlantic League. He also pitched in one major league game with the Diamondbacks in 2016. The Pirates signed Campos in late March as a minor league free agent.
Eckelman was a Florida State League All-Star with Bradenton last season and earned a mid-season promotion to Altoona in late June. He went on to hold a 1.82 ERA over 23 Double-A outings and led the club with 11 saves. He was named a Pittsburgh Organization All-Star by MiLB.com while his 17 total saves between Altoona and Bradenton led the Pirates minor league system. Eckelman then went on to pitch in the Arizona Fall League after the season. He was a 21st round pick by Pittsburgh during the 2016 draft out of Saint Louis University.
Garcia is back for his third season with the Curve after 37 relief outings in 2018. Signed as an international free agent out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, he was named the Pirates Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2015.
German spent all of last season with Bradenton and led the Marauders staff with 35 appearances out of the bullpen. Originally signed by the Dodgers as an international free agent in 2013, he was acquired by the Pirates in the Tony Watson trade at the 2017 trade deadline.
Hightower finished last season on a 15.1-inning scoreless streak with the Curve and compiled a 1.99 ERA over 29 games between Bradenton and Altoona. He earned the first all-star nomination of his career with the Marauders and went 5-0 with a 1.47 ERA in 18 outings before he was promoted to Double-A for the first time in July. Hightower was a 15th round selection by the Pirates in 2015 out of Columbia State Community College.
Scioneaux returns for his third season with the Curve after he led the Altoona bullpen with 69 strikeouts last year. The Louisiana native enters 2019 18 saves and 49 appearances shy of being the franchise record holder in each category. He was a 39th-round pick by Pittsburgh out of Southeastern Louisiana University in 2015 and closed out the Curve's 2017 championship clincher with three ninth-inning strikeouts.
Vasquez pitched in 13 games for the Curve last year before he landed on the injured list in mid-July. He finished the year with Bradenton once he was activated in August. Vasquez will transition to the bullpen in 2019 after making 69 starts in 73 career outings in four professional seasons. He was traded to the Pirates from the Mariners in 2016 for Arquimedes Caminero.
Delay caught 67 games for Bradenton in 2018, which was the first full season of his career. He won the College World Series with Vanderbilt in 2014 and was a fourth-round draft choice by the Pirates in 2017.
Pabst played at three different levels last year, including 19 games with the Curve. A Florida State League All-Star selection with Bradenton, he set new career-best totals with 10 homers, 36 RBIs, 14 doubles and two triples. From Los Angeles, Pabst was drafted by the Pirates during the 12th round of the 2015 draft.
Alemais spent the entire 2018 season with the Curve and hit .279 over 120 games as the primary second baseman. Baseball America tabbed Alemais as the "Best Defensive Second Baseman" in the Eastern League while he paced all players at the position in games played, total chances, putouts, assists and double plays. The third-round draft pick out of Tulane will be back on the left side of the infield in 2019 as he makes the Curve Opening Day roster for the second straight year.
Owen displayed his power with 18 home runs last season, which finished second in the Pirates organization, and 21 doubles with Bradenton in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Last August, he homered in four straight games and was named FSL Player of the Week. Owen was drafted by Pittsburgh in the 25th round out of Indiana State University in 2016.
Pope split last season with West Virginia and Bradenton. A North Carolina native, he was drafted by the Pirates in the 22nd round in 2017 out of Western Carolina University.
Reyes returns to Altoona after a breakout 2018 in which he appeared at Double-A and Triple-A for the first time in his career. He was a Florida State League All-Star and hit .310 with 23 stolen bases for Bradenton before he was promoted to Altoona at the end of June. His 35 total stolen bases matched Cole Tucker for the most in the Pirates system last year. Pittsburgh acquired Reyes in the Triple-A phase of the Rule 5 Draft in 2015.
Suiter spent last season in his home state of Indiana with Triple-A Indianapolis. He played in 100 games for the Curve in 2017 and has helped capture two Pirates minor league championships (2017 with Altoona and 2016 with Bradenton).
Tolman returns to Altoona after spending last season with Bradenton. He reached Double-A for the first time at the end of the 2017 season, hit a walk-off homer in the season finale and hit .333 during the Curve's 6-0 run to the 2017 Eastern League Championship. Tolman was drafted in the seventh round of the 2015 draft out of Oregon.
Hill makes his second straight Curve Opening Day roster after he finished third in the Pirates organization with 17 homers last year. He also finished second in the system with 72 RBIs. Over the last two seasons, no Pirates minor league player has hit more home runs than Hill's total of 35. He was drafted by the Pirates in the 25th round out of Troy University in 2015.
Jackson returns to Altoona after he played in 64 games a year ago in his return to affiliated baseball. He racked up 10 hits with six extra-base hits in a three-game stretch in June for one of the hottest stretches by any player last season. The Pirates acquired Jackson as a minor league free agent in November 2017.
Madris was one of Bradenton's top clutch performers with three walk-off hits in 2018. His first action with the Curve will be his Double-A debut. The Las Vegas native was drafted out of Colorado Mesa University by the Pirates in 2017.
Oliva was named by MiLB.com as a Pittsburgh Organization All-Star after he cluttered the Florida State League and Pirates organization statistical leaderboards. His 75 runs led the FSL and were second-most among Pittsburgh minor leaguers. He also stole 33 bases, the third-most in the Pirates system and second-most in the FSL. Baseball America rated Oliva as the "Best Defensive Outfielder" in Pittsburgh's developmental chain. Oliva played collegiately at the University of Arizona and was drafted by the Pirates in the seventh round in 2017.
The 21st season of Altoona Curve Baseball begins on Thursday as the two-time defending Western Division champions visit the Akron RubberDucks at Canal Park in Akron, Ohio at 6:35 p.m. Fans can listen to the action on the flagship radio home of the Curve, 98.5 FM WRTA, or any of the US. Foods Altoona Curve Radio Network affiliates, as well as the TuneIn Radio or MiLB First Pitch apps.
The Curve return to Peoples Natural Gas Field for their home opener on Thursday, April 11 against the Akron RubberDucks at 6 p.m. The gates open at 5 p.m. and the first 5,000 fans will receive a 2019 Curve Magnet Schedule, presented by Allegany College of Maryland, and there will be a spectacular fireworks show following the game. It will also be Thirstday, presented by Q94, with $2 Bud Light 16 oz. drafts and regular-sized soda, as well as $1 Kunzler by Juniata-brand hot dogs.
For tickets or more information, visit AltoonaCurve.com, call 877.99.CURVE or stop by the PNG Field offices.