Baseball is officially back! Major League Baseball’s 2019 season began on Thursday with Curve alumni all over the big league landscape.
A total of 28 formal Curve alumni were on a major league roster for Opening Day with six more starting the season on their team’s injured list.
Let’s start with the Pirates, where the majority of former Curve players in the majors are currently. Ten members of the Bucs Opening Day roster are alumni of the Curve. Pitchers Jameson Taillon, Steven Brault, Nick Burdi and Nick Kingham joined by position players Starling Marte, Adam Frazier, Josh Bell, Kevin Newman, Pablo Reyes and Jacob Stallings. Joe Musgrove, Francisco Liriano and Francisco Cervelli have all appeared in Curve uniforms on major league rehab assignments. Jose Osuna, Gregory Polanco, Elias Diaz and Dovydas Neverauskas are starting the season on the injured list while Edgar Santana and Chad Kuhl will miss the entire season recovering from Tommy John.
Taillon received the Opening Day nod as the Pirates starter to join Gerrit Cole, Zach Duke, Paul Maholm and Ian Snell as the fifth Curve alumnus to start the season opener for the Pirates. He turned in a solid effort before the Reds powered their way to a 5-3 win in front of a record crowd of 44,049 at Great America Ballpark.
Bell and Frazier were in the starting lineup while Reyes and Newman came off the bench. Burdi pitched the eighth and struck out all three batters he faced in his 2019 debut.
Pirates fans saw some recognizable names on the other side of the field in Cincinnati. Zach Duke and Jared Hughes each pitched in relief for the Reds while Duke received the winning decision. Each player is on a one-year deal in Cincinnati.
As we look away from the Pirates-Reds matchup, Andrew McCutchen and Austin Meadows stood out with lead-off home runs in their season debuts.
McCutchen, in his first year of a three-year pact with the Phillies, stole the thunder of Bryce Harper’s debut in the City of Brotherly Love by launching a 2-0 pitch from Julio Teheran over the wall in center field.
Meadows homered in first at bat of the year as well as one of two former Curve players on Tampa Bay’s Opening Day Roster. Tyler Glasnow is scheduled to pitch on Saturday against the Astros. Charlie Morton, who appeared in Altoona on multiple MLB rehab assignments, is also with the Rays after signing a two-year contract in the offseason. Morton is set to pitch on Friday against Gerrit Cole, another Curve great.
Neil Walker enjoyed a successful debut with a new team, the Marlins. He appeared as a pinch hitter in the sixth inning and launched a solo homer for Miami’s first run of the campaign.
The Tigers, Indians and Mets each had two former Curve on their rosters to start the season.
Josh Harrison and Jordy Mercer double-play duo have now manned the same middle infield on Opening Day in each of the last four years during their time in Pittsburgh and now Detroit. JaCoby Jones, a member of the 2015 team, is on the Tigers’ injured list to start the season.
Jordan Luplow and Max Moroff broke camp with Cleveland but neither were in the lineup for the injury-ridden Tribe. Both players appeared off the bench in a 2-0 loss to the Twins.
The Mets could have as many as four former Curve players on their roster this season. Keon Broxton and Justin Wilson made the Opening Day roster while Daniel Zamora and Rajai Davis are both under contract. Davis and Zamora are slated to begin the year with the Mets’ new Triple-A affiliate in Syracuse.
With the World Champion Red Sox, Steve Pearce started the season on the injured list as the 2018 World Series MVP is battling a calf strain. Brock Holt made the club but did not play against the Mariners at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Thursday.
Tony Watson is in San Francisco while Connor Joe also suited up for the Giants. Joe was a Rule 5 pick by the Reds and was traded to San Francisco a week before Opening Day. He is the first new debut by a Curve alum in 2019 and must stay on the Giants roster the entire season or be returned to the Dodgers.
Staying out west, you can find three more former Curve players on four different major league rosters. Hunter Strickland with the Mariners, Robert Stock made the Padres Opening Day roster and Robbie Grossman is playing for the Athletics in 2019.
After 20 seasons in Altoona, the Curve have sent over 150 players to the majors after playing in Altoona. Some climb the ladder to Pittsburgh while others find success in other places. However they do it, every single player to break into the The Show contributes to the legacy of Double-A baseball in this West-Central Pennsylvania town. As long as the Pirates aren’t in the other dugout, we’re rooting for you all!