We figured we’d better get this post up early this week because a severe food coma is calling most of the US with Thanksgiving coming up this Thursday and then the official start of holiday shopping madness on Friday with Black Friday. I apologize for the hiatus over the past few weeks in regards to the blog but sometimes world travelling doesn’t always lend itself to the easiest internet access.
That being said, we’ve got a few things to cover this week on the blog. Firstly, for those that didn’t see last week, Pirates-Curve Exhibition tickets will go on sale to the general public beginning December 1st in person only at the box offices at the ballpark during our Inaugural Holiday Bazaar from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Phone and online sales will follow on Monday, December 3rd beginning at 9 a.m. On the theme of the Bazaar, we’re hoping to put quite a shopping experience together for area residents who want to take care of some of their holiday shopping early at the Bazaar! All of our vendor spots are currently full (75 total) and we have a wide variety of different merchants and vendors so we’re pretty excited about that.
In addition, we’ll also swing the doors open on our Curve Holiday Store, which will be housed here at the ballpark this season. It’ll be open during regular office hours and then Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. up until Christmas.
Arizona Fall League Wraps Up Play
One of the winter ball leagues has come to a close as the calendar progresses through November and that is the Arizona Fall League. The Pirates (and Curve for that matter) were well represented in one of the most prestigious offseason leagues that MLB has to offer. Here’s a brief breakdown of what Pirates farmhands were able to accomplish in the short season.
1B Matt Curry: .253, 4 2B, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 13 BB, 23 K (23 games) – The Curve’s first baseman for most of the past two seasons, Matt Curry got his first shot in Triple-A towards the end of this season and followed it up with this stint in the AFL. The Dallas, Texas native hit .283 in 13 games away from Scottsdale Stadium and spent a majority of his games (15 of 23) batting in the cleanup spot for the Scorpions. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @MattyCurry17.
2B/SS Gift Ngoepe: .261, 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 7 BB, 15 K (16 games) – Someone fans in Altoona might get to know at some point in 2013 is second baseman Gift Ngoepe, who hails from Pietersburg, South Africa. Ngoepe spent all of the 2011 campaign with the Bradenton Marauders and boasted a .232 clip with 11 doubles, 5 triples and 9 homers in 124 games. He’s one of the better defensive playes in the organization but is still waiting for his bat to develop. He really turned it up towards the end of his AFL stint, hitting safely in each of his last six games (10-for-21, .476), including two three-hit games.
2B/OF Adalberto Santos: .299, 7 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 11 RBI, 14 BB, 14 K (21 games) – Proving once more that if you put a bat in his hands he can hit the ball, Oregon State product Adalberto Santos had one of the better averages on the team at .299 for any player that played in at least 20 games. The Bronx, N.Y. native hammered lefty pitching to the tune of a .474 clip (9-for-19) while batting .292 in 24 at bats with men in scoring position. Santos was also getting steady reps at second base during the AFL, playing one third (seven of his 21 games) at second. He also played two games at third during his time in the Grand Canyon state. You can follow Adalberto on Twitter at @SantosSwag.
RHP Vic Black: 1-1, 11.81 ERA, 1 SV, 10.2 IP, 11 BB, 11 K (12 games) – Altoona’s go to closer during the 2012 regular season, the AFL seemed to be a challenge for Black, who had opposing hitters bat .370 off him in his 12 games appeared. His ERA was a direct result of a big inning where the Amarillo, Texas native gave up seven earned runs on three hits while walking four in 0.2 IP. You can follow Vic on Twitter at @vic_black_2.
RHP Brandon Cumpton: 0-0, 2.57 ERA, 0 SV, 14.0 IP, 7 BB, 6 K (11 games) – Brandon Cumpton took the ball 27 times as a starter for the Curve in 2012 but worked solely out of the bullpen during his first AFL stint. Fall league hitters batted just .229 off the Evans, Ga. native and Georgia Tech product. He kept opponents from touching home plate eight of his 11 appearances for Scottsdale.
RHP Kyle Kaminska: 3-1, 1.61 ERA, 28.0 IP, 4 BB, 21 K (6 games – all starts) – Kaminska joined the Pirates organization along with Gaby Sanchez in the trade that sent Gorkys Hernandez plus a competitive balance pick to Miami. After a brief stint as a reliever with the Curve, Kaminska was then assigned to High-A Bradenton to be converted back into a starter, where he dominated. The Ohio native was subsequently called back up to Altoona to make his final start of the 2012 regular season before getting ready for Arizona. All the starter did was go 3-1 with a 1.61 ERA and held opposing hitters to a .208 clip. He finished the AFL season among the league leaders in ERA (3rd, 1.61), innings pitched (2nd, 28.0 IP), WHIP (4th, 0.93), lowest batting average for a starter (1st, .208) lowest BB/9IP for a starter (1st, 1.29) and fewest baserunners/9IP (2nd, 9.32).
RHP Tyler Waldron: 0-0, 3.14 ERA, 14.1 IP, 6 BB, 11 K (10 games) – A fellow Oregon State alumn, Waldron also pitched exclusively out of the bullpen in the AFL after starting most of his MiLB career up to that point. Opponents had a tough time tracking his stuff, mustering only a .167 clip against him in his 10 games on the field for the Scottsdale Scorpions. He was particularly effective against the lefties, holding them to a .120 batting average in 25 at bats (righties hit .217 in 23 at bats). Tyler is also on Twitter and you can follow him at @twallywaldron.
Lastly this week on the blog we’ve got a nice Thank You from Tyler Maun, who has decided to move on from the Curve as he prepares for the next step in his life. I had great pleasure in working with Tyler this season both on and off the air and he’ll be missed in Curve, Pa.
If there’s one thing that comes along most in Minor League Baseball during the offseason, it’s change. Players get released and signed, teams change locations and names and logos (Hillsboro Hops, anyone?), and front office staffers move on. With that, this is my fond farewell to Curve, Pa.
It was a pleasure to be one half of your radio team for a season and serve alongside my good friend Mike Passanisi for an awesome season in Altoona. I cannot even begin to list the amount of incredible people I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and work with here, but just know that the tally goes on and on. The passion that the people of Altoona have for this team and this franchise is incredible, and it makes me feel immensely proud to have been a part of that, even for just a short while. From the rest of my fellow front office staff members to our players, gameday employees, ushers, concessions workers, and most importantly, our fans, I was able to be a part of a unique and incredible thing in 2012, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for an amazing experience. Thanks for letting me mildly entertain (or annoy) you on the radio for a summer. It’s the greatest job a guy could imagine, and it was a privilege to do it here.
As we all get older in life, we realize that priorities change, and for me, the biggest of those in my life did so about six weeks ago when I got engaged to my lovely fiancée Natalie. With a wedding on the horizon in less than a year, it feels like the right time to be heading back home.
So in just a few short days, off to Denver I go, but I’ll be pulling for the Curve from a couple of time zones west. If you’re reading this or you tuned into a game this season or we saw you out at the ballpark once or 70 times, you’re a major part what makes this job and this team and this industry special. Thanks for that. We all appreciate it more than you know.
With that, safe travels to all as you embark on your Thanksgiving travels this week. We’ll catch back up next week with a look at what’s coming up at our Bazaar and also some more travelling pics from Al Tuna, who jetset his way out to Ireland with one of our fans.