The Pittsburgh Pirates announced twelve non-roster invitees that will attend major league camp during Spring Training in 2016, including five members of the 2015 Altoona Curve.
Pitchers Steven Brault and Chad Kuhl, infielders Adam Frazier and Dan Gamache and catcher Jacob Stallings were among the selections.
Brault posted the third-lowest ERA (2.00) in Curve history during the 2015 season after a mid-year call-up from A-Adv. Bradenton. The lefty turned heads in his first season with the Pirates’ organization after he was picked up in an offseason trade as part of a package from the Orioles for Travis Snider. He had 125 strikeouts last season between his two stops, the second-most in the Pittsburgh minor league system.
Kuhl was a model of consistency en route to winning the Curve’s Pitcher of the Year Award in 2015, going 11-5 with a 2.48 ERA in 26 starts with Altoona. He led the Curve and finished tenth in the Eastern League with 101 strikeouts prior to being promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis for the playoffs. He also had a team-high 16 quality starts (Max. 3 ER/Min. 6 IP).
Frazier spent the entire 2015 season with the Curve, his second full year in professional baseball after winning the NCAA batting title with Mississippi State in 2013. He earned an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star selection while batting .324, second-best in the Pirates’ system. He also the season with the top batting average among qualifying hitters in the Eastern League, but the league batting title was later awarded to Bowie’s Trey Mancini on Rule 9.22(a).
In his second season with the Curve, Gamache was an Eastern League All-Star last year and won the circuit’s home run derby in Portland in July. After batting .077 in April, Gamache rebounded to hit .335 with five homers and 37 RBIs in just 75 games before a mid-season promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis on July 31. He tied a franchise record going 5-for-5 on May 25 at New Hampshire, the first five-hit game for a Curve player since 2008.
Stallings split time as the Curve’s starting catcher in 2015 and posted the top fielding percentage (.994) among all Eastern League backstops and threw out 36.8 percent of base stealing attempts, second-best in the league. He did not allow a single passed ball all season while posting a career-best .275 average in his first season at Double-A.
Some recent Curve players will also be preparing for the 2016 campaign in major league camp as members of Pittsburgh’s 40-man roster, including top prospect Tyler Glasnow (2015), Josh Bell (2014-15), Max Moroff (2015), Gift Ngoepe (2013-15), Willy Garcia (2014-15), John Holdzkom (2014), Nick Kingham (2013-14), Jameson Taillon (2013-14), Elias Diaz (2014) and Alen Hanson (2013-14).
These players will join many of the Pirates’ mainstays that made their way to the big leagues through Altoona, including Andrew McCutchen (2006-07), Gerrit Cole (2012), Starling Marte (2011), Gregory Polanco (2013), Josh Harrison (2010), Jared Hughes (2008-11), Jeff Locke (2010-11), Tony Watson (2009-10), Jordy Mercer (2010-11) and Tony Sanchez (2011-13).
Other Pirates’ non-roster invitees included pitchers Wilfredo Boscan, Jim Fuller, Kelvin Marte, Curtis Partch, Trevor Williams and Robert Zarate, catchers Ed Easley and Reese McGuire, infielders Juan Diaz and Cole Figueroa as well as outfielders Danny Ortiz and Antoan Richardson.
The Curve begin the 2016 season at Peoples Natural Gas Field on April 7 against the Harrisburg Senators. Mini Plans and Flex Books for the upcoming year are available now.