Fans’ Choice All-Time Curve Team: Starting Pitcher finalists

fans choice SP

By Trey Wilson

As we prepare for our 20th Season Celebration in 2018, we are turning to the fans to decide the Fans’ Choice All-Time Altoona Curve Team. Fans will vote for one manager and a player at each position to pick the 11 representatives on the Fans’ Choice All-Time Altoona Curve Team. The voting will also go toward a yet-to-be-announced promotion for the upcoming season.

Fans can cast their votes by clicking here.

We broke down the candidates for the All-Time Team Manager, Catcher, First Baseman, Second Baseman, Third Baseman, Shortstop and Outfielders already. Those posts can be found here. Now we will take a look at the finalists for the Fans’ Choice All-Time Team Starting Pitcher.

Bronson Arroyo
Years: 1999
Stats: 15-4, 3.65 ERA (25 starts in one season)
Part of the original Opening Day roster for the Curve in their inaugural 1999 campaign, Bronson Arroyo was the winning pitcher in Altoona’s first-ever victory on April 10, 1999 at Reading. He fired the first complete-game shutout in franchise history on June 8, 1999 against Bowie, despite allowing 11 hits, and he became the second different pitcher to record 10 strikeouts in a game on July 19 against Erie. Arroyo won 15 games in 1999, still the most in a single season in team history, and posted the third-best winning percentage (.789) for a pitcher with at least ten decisions in franchise history.

Arroyo debuted with the Pirates in the big leagues in June 2000 and has totaled 22 seasons in professional baseball, including 16 in the big leagues with the Pirates, Red Sox, Reds and Diamondbacks. At 40 years old, he made 14 starts in 2017 for the Cincinnati Reds after not appearing in a big league game for the two previous seasons. Arroyo won a World Series title with the Red Sox in 2004, was a National League All-Star with Cincinnati in 2006 and won a Gold Glove Award in 2010. He has pitched in 419 major league games, combining to go 3-6 with a 4.28 ERA.

John Grabow
Years: 2000-2003
Stats: 24-26, 4.42 ERA (86 games, 70 starts in four seasons)
In his first season with the Curve in 2000, John Grabow led the team with 145.1 innings pitched and 109 strikeouts. The left-hander holds the team record for the most losses in a single season with 13 in 2002, a year he tied the team record for starts in a season with 27, which has still not been surpassed to this day. With his long Double-A career, Grabow ranks second in team history with 26 career losses, but he is also tied for third on the team’s all-time list with 24 wins, second with 321 strikeouts and second with 70 starts. Grabow was the Curve’s Opening Day starting pitcher in 2001 and he tossed a complete-game, five-hit shutout against Erie on June 13, 2002.

Grabow went on to spend most of his MLB career with the Pirates, parts of seven seasons in total, and also worked in three seasons with the Cubs. Over 506 MLB relief appearances, he went 24-19 with a 4.31 ERA in his nine-year major league career and recorded 400 strikeouts.

Sean Burnett
Year: 2003
Stats: 14-6, 3.21 ERA (27 starts in one season)
Sean Burnett joined the Curve in 2003 as the No. 25 prospect in all of baseball according to Baseball America and Pittsburgh’s No. 2 prospect, having won the Pirates’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year Award each of the two previous years. At the time, he was arguably the best pitching prospect the Curve had seen. He led the Curve with 14 wins that year, still tied for the second-most in a single season in team history and the most by a left-hander. He matched the team record with 27 total starts and allowed just two home runs, tied for the fewest in a season for a Curve pitcher. He logged 159.2 innings, which was second on the team but still stands as the third-most in a single season in franchise history. Burnett threw two complete-game shutouts in 2003 and was named as an Eastern League Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star.

Burnett debuted with the Pirates in 2004, making 14 starts, but did not see MLB action again until 2008 after battling injuries. He spent most of his major league career with the Nationals, combining to post a 2.82 ERA in 255 appearances across five seasons.

Landon Jacobsen
Years: 2003-2006
Stats: 30-22, 3.44 ERA (79 games, 66 starts in four seasons)
Landon Jacobsen spent four seasons with the Curve, beginning with a successful 2003 campaign. That year, he led the team with 11 losses despite posting the best ERA on the club at 2.93. Over a team-record-tying 27 starts, Jacobsen worked 162.2 innings, the most ever for an Altoona pitcher in a single season. After seeing limited action in 2004 and 2005, Jacobsen returned for another full season in 2006, leading the team with 14 wins, which is tied for the second-most for a Curve pitcher in a season. He also worked a team-high 154.0 innings, which is the fourth-most in a single season for an Altoona starter. Jacobsen was selected as an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star in 2006 and won his only postseason start in the Division Series against Akron with the Curve facing elimination in Game 3, holding the Aeros to one run over six innings in a 4-1 victory. Jacobsen is the Curve’s all-time leader in wins with 30, ranks third with 66 games started and fourth with 22 career losses.

Jacobsen briefly saw time with Triple-A Indianapolis in 2006 and signed with the Phillies in 2007, pitching for Double-A Reading and Triple-A Ottawa in his final affiliated season. He made four appearances with independent Somerset of the Atlantic League to close his playing career in 2008.

Mike Connolly
Years: 2003-2006
Stats: 27-29, 4.15 ERA (86 games, 83 starts in four seasons)
Mike Connolly pitched for the Curve across four seasons beginning in 2003, when he led the team with 90 strikeouts. He returned for a second full season in 2004 and made 21 starts as the Curve won their first division title in team history. He was brief action with Triple-A Indianapolis in 2005, but spent most of the year with the Curve and tied for the team lead with 87 strikeouts. Connolly is the only Curve pitcher to make two Opening Day starts, taking the hill for the season openers in 2005 and 2006. He made 83 starts in his Curve career, more than any other pitcher, and he recorded a franchise-record 340 strikeouts while collecting 27 total wins, the second-most in team history.

Connolly signed with the Royals in 2007 and pitched in Double-A for his final affiliated season. He closed out his career with independent Bridgeport in 2008.

Ian Snell

Years: 2003-2004
Stats: 15-7, 2.93 ERA (32 starts in two seasons)
After winning 10 games with A-Adv. Lynchburg, Ian Snell made six starts for the Curve to close the 2003 season, going 4-0 with a 1.96 ERA and was named as the Pirates’ Minor League Player of the Year. Ranked by Baseball America as the Pirates’ No. 6 prospect, Snell returned as the Curve’s Opening Day starting pitcher in 2004 and went on a set the franchise record with 142 strikeouts and picked up Eastern League Mid-Season and Post-Season All-Star honors. For the year, he went 11-7 with a team-best 3.16 ERA and 151 innings pitched as the Curve won the Southern Division and advanced to the ELCS for the first time in team history. He threw two complete-game shutouts that season, one of only two Curve players to pitched multiple shutouts. On May 2, he recorded a franchise-record 12 strikeouts, which is still tied with David Bromberg and Tyler Glasnow for the most in a regular-season game in team history. In total, he struck out 10 or more batters three times in 2004, which is good for the most double-digit strikeout performances of any Altoona pitcher. Snell set a franchise record on August 12, 2004, by striking out seven consecutive batters against New Hampshire. He was pulled from a start on August 17 and called up to the Pirates two days later, but returned to Altoona to finish the season. Snell pitched in Game 3 of the Eastern League Championship Series against New Hampshire and allowed two runs, but the Curve lost the game, 2-0, to the end their season.

Snell spent six seasons as a starting pitcher with the Pirates and two with the Mariners. He last appeared in the big leagues in 2010 and spent 2011 with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate in Albuquerque. Snell has pitched the last two seasons in the Puerto Rican Winter League.

Zach Duke
Years: 2004, 2010
Stats: 5-1, 1.70 ERA (11 starts in two seasons)
Zach Duke joined the Curve in July 2004 after a promotion from A-Adv. Lynchburg and went on to go 5-1 with a 1.58 ERA over nine starts to help the Curve solidify their first regular-season division title. He did not allow a run in his first two Double-A starts, combining for 11 scoreless innings. Duke worked Game 1 of the Division Series and picked up a win over Erie. He also pitched Game 1 of the ELCS against New Hampshire, but picked up a loss after allowing three runs over six innings. Following the season, Duke was named the Pirates’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He was also ranked as Baseball America’s No. 1 Pittsburgh prospect, No. 6 in the Eastern League and No. 34 in the minors.

Duke made his MLB debut with the Pirates in July of the following season and made 14 starts overall in 2005, going 8-2 with a 1.81 ERA. He spent six total seasons with the Pirates and returned to Altoona for two rehab starts in 2010 after a left elbow strain. Duke bounced between the Diamondbacks, Nationals, Reds, Brewers and White Sox from 2011 and 2016 and has spent the last two seasons with the Cardinals. Over 13 MLB seasons, Duke is 61-85 with a 4.30 ERA in 468 appearances, including 169 starts.

Jared Hughes
Years: 2008-2011, 2013
Stats: 18-20, 4.29 ERA (67 games, 48 starts in five seasons)
Jared Hughes came to the Curve as a starting pitcher near the end of the 2008 season to make his final six starts of the year. He returned in 2009 and split time between the rotation and the bullpen, but saw limited action. He finally got a full Double-A season under his belt in 2010, making 23 starts and seven relief appearances. Hughes went 12-8 on the season, tying the team lead in both wins and losses while leading the team with 150.2 innings pitched. He pitched out of the bullpen in the playoffs, combining for 8.1 scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and just one hit allowed to help the Curve win their first Eastern League championship. He made 13 more appearances (11 starts) for the Curve in 2011 before earning his first trip to Triple-A in June.

Hughes reached the majors by the end of the 2011 seasons with the Pirates and went on to spend six total seasons in Pittsburgh, posting a 2.82 ERA in 313 games. He returned to the Curve for a rehab appearance on July 17, 2013 while returning from right shoulder inflammation. Hughes joined the Milwaukee Brewers for the 2017 season and went 5-3 with a 3.02 ERA.

Brad Lincoln
Year: 2009
Stats: 1-5, 2.28 ERA (13 starts in one season)
Brad Lincoln joined the Curve to open the 2009 season and went on to post the second-lowest ERA for a right-hander in team history (min. 75 innings pitched) at 2.28. He went 1-5 over his 13 starts prior to a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis in mid-June. Lincoln’s lone win in a Curve uniform came on June 21, 2009, when he pitched a complete-game, two-hit shutout against Bowie.


Lincoln joined the Pirates in the big leagues the following year and spent three totals years in Pittsburgh, going 7-9 with a 4.62 ERA in 51 games (22 starts). He spent his final three major league seasons split between the Pirates, Blue Jays and Phillies. Lincoln signed with the Pirates in 2015 and spent the season with Indianapolis to close out his career.

Rudy Owens
Year: 2010
Stats: 12-6, 2.46 ERA (26 starts in one season)
After being named the Pirates’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, Rudy Owens joined the Curve rotation in 2010 for their Eastern League Championship run. He tied for the team lead with 12 wins and finished second behind Justin Wilson with 132 strikeouts, which still stands as the third-most in a season in team history. Owens set the franchise record with a +109 strikeout/walk ratio, issuing only 23 free passes over his 150 innings. Owens gave up five runs in 1.2 innings in Game 1 of the Division Series against Harrisburg. He went head-to-head against Andy Pettitte in Game 1 of the Eastern League Championship Series, allowing two runs over five innings, but the Thunder won the game in extras.

After bouncing around in the minors, Owens finally made his major league debut with the Houston Astros on May 23, 2014, allowing five earned runs over 5.2 innings. He was sent back to the minors and has not reached the big leagues again since, last pitching in independent baseball with Somerset of the Atlantic League in 2016.

wilson justin
Justin Wilson

Year: 2010
Stats: 11-8, 3.09 ERA (27 games, 26 starts in one season)
Justin Wilson had a breakout season with the Curve in 2010, jumping from the Pirates’ No. 33 to No. 15 prospect in Baseball America’s rankings. The left-hander recorded 134 striekouts that season, the most on the team and second-most in a season in Curve history. Wilson was the winning pitcher in Game 3 of the Division Series against Harrisburg and Game 3 of the Championship Series against Trenton.

Wilson played three years with the Pirates in the big leagues from 2012-2014 before joining the Yankees for the 2015 season. After a year and a half with the Tigers, Wilson was traded to the Cubs this season and is currently on their postseason roster. Through 341 MLB games, all out of the bullpen, Wilson is 22-14 with a 3.30 ERA.

Gerrit Cole
Year: 2012
Stats: 3-6, 2.90 ERA (12 starts in one season)
The top overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, Gerrit Cole came to Altoona less than a year into his professional career with a June call-up in 2012. That year, he was ranked as the No. 12 prospect and baseball by Baseball America and the Pirates No. 1 prospect. He made just 12 starts in a Curve uniform. He was selected to pitch in the All-Star Futures Game in Kansas City. Cole tallied a season-best nine strikeouts at Portland on August 16 and posted a 1.67 ERA over his final five Altoona starts before a late promotion to Triple-A to close out the year.

Cole reached the majors the following season and has played with the Pirates for five years. His best season so far was in 2015, when he went 19-8 with a 2.60 ERA, earning a National League All-Star selection and finishing fourth in Cy Young Award voting. Over 127 MLB starts, Cole has gone 59-42 with a 3.50 ERA.

Jameson Taillon
Years: 2012-2013, 2017
Stats: 7-7, 3.31 ERA (24 games, 23 starts in three seasons)
The Pirates were rich with elite pitching prospect talent around 2012 and 2013, and Jameson Taillon was capturing a lot of attention. The second-overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft, surrounded by the selections of Bryce Harper and Manny Machado, Taillon joined the Curve late in the 2012 season and made three starts, picking up a win in all three of those games and posting a 1.59 ERA. He returned to Altoona in 2013 as Baseball America’s No. 19 overall prospect and Pittsburgh’s No. 2 prospect and worked in 20 games (19 starts) before heading up to Triple-A late in the year. With the Curve, Taillon recorded two 10-strikeout performances and was selected as an Eastern League Mid-Season All-Star.

Taillon missed all of 2014 and 2015 after a series of injuries, but he returned to the field in 2016 and reached the Majors for the first time in June of that year. He returned to the Curve for a rehab start in May 2017 after undergoing testicular cancer surgery and worked three scoreless innings at Erie. Taillon has gone 13-11 with a 3.98 ERA over 43 big league starts over the last two seasons.

Steven Brault
Year: 2015
Stats: 9-3, 2.00 ERA (15 starts in one season)
Steven Brault broke onto the prospect radar with the Curve in 2015 after joining the season from A-Adv. Bradenton in late-June. After posing a 4.74 ERA in his first five Double-A starts, Brault dominated his way through is last ten outings of the year, going 8-0 with a 0.96 ERA (7 ER/65.1 IP). A former collegiate outfielder, Brault also posted a .438 batting average, tying the record for the most hits in a season by a pitcher. He led the 2015 Curve rotation with a 2.00 ERA, the third-lowest ERA for an Altoona pitcher in team history with at least 75 innings pitched. His 9-3 record was good for the fifth-best winning percentage (.750) in team history.

Brault debuted with the Pirates in 2016 and has made 19 appearances, including 11 starts, with Pittsburgh over the last two years, going 1-3 with a 4.76 ERA.

Chad Kuhl
Year: 2015
Stats: 11-5, 2.48 ERA (26 starts in one season)
Chad Kuhl spent the entire 2015 season with Altoona and led the team with 101 strikeouts over his 26 starts. He heated up at the end of the season, going 6-2 with a 1.38 ERA over his final 11 starts.

Kuhl briefly joined the Pirates in the big leagues the following year and was a member of the Opening Day roster for the first time in his career this season. Over his 45 MLB starts, Kuhl is 13-15 with a 4.30 ERA.

There is your look at the finalists for the Fans’ Choice All-Time Altoona Curve Team Starting Pitcher. Be sure to cast your votes here.

Season tickets for the Curve’s 20th season are currently on sale as the team looks to defend its Eastern League championship.

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