The Altoona Curve entered the season with one of the most hyped rosters in all of the minor leagues. They opened a couple of Top 100 prospects on the roster, and a few more that would be added later on.
They didn’t make the playoffs but they did finish with a winning record of 71-66 and owned a +68 run differential.
Altoona was one of the best hitting teams in the Eastern League, finishing third in runs, first in hits (and average), and fourth in stolen bases.
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Altoona used seven different catchers during the 2022 season. Carter Bins was originally tasked to take the bulk of the starts behind the plate, but struggled out the gate, paving the way for Blake Sabol to take over. Bins was eventually sent to Indianapolis to make room for Henry Davis, but when he went down with an injury it was Sabol again that stepped up and handled the majority of the catching duties.
Sabol logged nearly 500 innings at catcher in Altoona, but only threw out 15% of would-be base stealers, as well as allowed 10 passed balls. It was the offensive side of things where he really shined, picking up 42 total extra-base hits and slashed .281/.346/.486 while in Double-A.
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) May 10, 2022
Davis, the former first overall pick, was moved up to Altoona after destroying High-A pitching, before he got settled into the lineup was forced to miss time with an injury. He bounced in and out the lineup and struggled mostly in Altoona although he did hit four home runs in 31 games.
Endy Rodriguez started the year in Greensboro with Davis, but after catching fire in High-A was moved up and got even better with Altoona. In just 31 games before getting yet another promotion, Rodriguez picked up 42 hits, 22 for extra-bases, and slashed .356/.442/.678.
The infield was stacked, with Top 100 prospects Nick Gonzales and Liover Peguero the double play combo and hit machine and defending gold glove winner at third base Jared Triolo forming three-fourths of the Opening Day infield.
Gonzales missed time with an injury and struggled out the gate once again but ended up as one of the few Pirates’ prospects to finish with an OPS over .800. He struggled with strikeouts, striking out 90 times in 71 games (both numbers while with Altoona) or 28.4% of his plate appearances.
Peguero was one of the best hitters in the Eastern League during the first half despite being one of the youngest players, even making his major league debut during the season. Once he returned, however, he struggled, and finished with a slash of .259/.305/.387 with 37 extra-base hits on the season. He also stole 28 bases, but also struggled in the field committing a total of 31 errors on the season.
After laying off a VERY CLOSE ball 3 call (probably should have been a strike) Liover Peguero hits the next pitch to the gap and gets a triple to lead off the game #LetsGoBucs pic.twitter.com/msnqqloXVg
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) September 9, 2022
Triolo started really slow, not picking up his first home run until the third month of the season, but still finished with the seventh most hits in the EL by the end of the year.
It’s crazy to think that the player who led the system in home runs wasn’t among the first mentioned but Aaron Shackelford answered his 22 home run, 2021 season with 26 this time around.
Not mentioned on almost any prospect list, even as a player to watch entering the year, Andres Alvarez became the first player to have a 20-20 season for the Curve, playing all over the infield as well as the outfield.
The star of the outfield was 2022 breakout prospect and player of the year Matt Fraizer, who couldn’t find the same success that he enjoyed from a year ago finishing with a wRC+ of 69 (had a 129 mark in 2021).
Connor Scott was acquired in the Jacob Stallings trade, and while he didn’t have the best season on the offensive side of things, was outstanding defensively.
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) April 16, 2022
Matt Gorski put together one of the best stretches you will see in Greensboro, earning a promotion to Altoona early in the season. Injuries kept him from finishing out the season, returning to play in Triple-A only to get hurt again.
He hit 16 extra-base hits in just 38 games and posted a 130 wRC+ while with the Curve. He had a very strong hold on the system home run lead before getting hurt which opened the door for Shackelford to take it.
The pitching staff finished fourth in ERA, 10th (of 12 teams) in strikeouts and sixth in WHIP. Even with Quinn Priester missing the start of the season, the Curve had one of the strongest rotations in the minors with Mike Burrows picking up where he left off in the Arizona Fall League in 2021, pitching lights out and into a promotion into Triple-A.
Another piece in the Stallings trade, Kyle Nicolas began the season lights out, even pitching four perfect frames on Easter Sunday against the Richmond Flying Squirrels. He struggled with control down the stretch which really prevented him from being effective on the mound.
— Anthony Murphy (@__Murphy88) May 6, 2022
Luis Ortiz was one of the best stories in the minors this year, after pitching in Bradenton in 2021 he jumped up to Altoona and eventually made it to the majors all in 2022. He didn’t put up the most eye popping numbers (4.64 ERA, 4.45 FIP), but still flashed the big fastball/slider combination that he showed in the majors.
After not pitching since 2019, Aaron Shortridge returned to the mound and made 14 starts for the Curve, posting a 4.88 ERA in 55 ⅓ innings.
Priester didn’t make his first start for the Curve until June 14 but still tossed 75 ⅓ innings with the club. He also posted a team best 2.87 ERA, striking out 75 in his 15 starts.
The bullpen was really good, and deep with JC Flowers (2.88 ERA, 7 wins), Tahnaj Thomas (3.02 ERA, 52 K), Colin Selby (2.20 ERA, 41 K) and Tyler Samaniego (3.52 ERA, 10 SV) all playing key roles in relief.
Anthony began writing over 10 years ago, starting a personal blog to cover the 2011 MLB draft, where the Pirates selected first overall. After bouncing around many websites covering hockey, he refocused his attention to baseball, his first love when it comes to sports. He eventually found himself here at Pirates Prospects in late 2021, where he covers the team’s four full season minor league affiliates.