Altoona Clinches Division With 9-1 Win


It was about a year ago today that I was watching the Lynchburg Hillcats, then the high-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates, clinching the playoffs in the Carolina League, followed by their eventual playoff run which resulted in the Carolina League championship.  One year later, most of that same team is in Altoona, one level higher, and potentially on track for the same result.

The Altoona Curve clinched first place in the Western division of the Eastern league with a 9-1 victory over the Bowie Baysox tonight. Altoona currently holds a seven and a half game division lead, clinching first place with a little less than a week remaining in the regular season.  Minor league records don’t usually indicate future major league success, but there is reason for hope in this case.  The 2009 Lynchburg Hillcats and the 2010 Altoona Curve are both fueled by many of the same Pittsburgh Pirates prospects, and some of the best prospects in the farm system.

Take Rudy Owens, for example.  Owens is a consensus top ten prospect in the Pittsburgh farm system.  Tonight Owens was dominant, pitching six shutout innings, allowing four hits, no walks, and striking out nine.  Two of those hits were infield singles.  Owens got ahead of hitters often, throwing first pitch strikes to 13 of the first 16 batters, and 17 of the 21 batters he faced.  That’s been the story for Owens all season, as heading in to tonight Owens had a 2.56 ERA in 144 innings, with a 123:23 K/BB ratio.

Owens has been joined in the Altoona rotation this year by Bryan Morris, Jeff Locke, and Justin Wilson.  Morris and Locke both rate in the top ten of the Pirates’ farm system, while Wilson falls just outside of the top ten, landing in the top 15.  All three are joining Owens with great seasons.

Then there’s the offense.  Matt Hague, a top 30 prospect in the Pirates’ farm system, led the strong offensive output tonight.  In the third inning, Hague was hit with a pitch, and advanced to second on a wild pitch.  Hector Gimenez followed that with a single to right field, and Hague steamrolled the catcher, who was trying to make the play on a throw just wide of the plate.  Hague later hit a solo homer, his 14th of the 2010 season, making the score 4-0 at the time in the 5th inning.  Then, with the game already out of reach, Hague hit a two run bomb in the eighth inning for his 15th homer of the season, making the score 9-1.

Hague with the play at the plate in the third, and his first homer of the night in the fifth inning.

Altoona was helped tonight with big nights from Jim Negrych and Anthony Norman.  Negrych went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, with RBI singles in the third and the seventh.  Norman went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI triple in the second inning, bringing in the first Altoona run of the night.

Derek Hankins came on to pitch the final three innings.  Hankins ran in to trouble in the seventh inning, allowing a run and escaping a bases loaded jam without any additional damage.  Hankins pitched three innings, allowing one run on five hits, with no walks and five strikeouts.

Altoona will play either Bowie or Harrisburg in the first round of the Eastern League playoffs.  Harrisburg currently leads Bowie by half a game.  Altoona has two more games in this series against Bowie, so they can play a role in who their opponents will be next week.

The Pirates Prospects minor league season ending tour will continue tomorrow with coverage of the State College Spikes.  Zac Fuesser will be on the mound for State College as they take on Auburn.

Share This Article

Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

Altoona Recap, 8/29/2010

Next Story »

Pittsburgh Pirates Prospect Watch 8/31/10

  • Scott S

    That was the first time I had a chance to see Owens, and it was awe inspiring. Great location, changing speeds, nice movement on the curve, composure — it was everything you could ask for.

    Otherwise, Hague crushed both homers, and I thought Harrison looked like he has some potential, particularly if he eventually moves to second. Lambo had a rough night, and looked like much more a free swinger than I was expecting.

  • Scott S

    BTW, thanks for the Twittering game info. It was a great part of watching the game… to bad Chase was scratched.

Latest Analysis

  • Austin Meadows

    Austin Meadows Lowered His Hand Position to Add More Power

    12 hours ago

    Ever since he was drafted, Austin Meadows was regarded as a prospect with power that you could dream about. He drew comps to Jay Bruce in the ...

    Read More
  • Tarpley Brault

    Will the Snider Trade Result in the Pirates Finally Having a Left-Handed Starting Prospect?

    1 day ago

    Despite adding plenty of pitching through the draft over the last several years, the Pittsburgh Pirates have been short on the amount of quality left-handed pitching in their ...

    Read More
  • Connor Joe 2

    Meet Connor Joe: The First Round Pick You Know Nothing About

    1 day ago

    This site is now in its seventh year of existence. For the last four years, I’ve been doing this full-time, allowing me to see every affiliate throughout the year, along ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    What is the Difference Between Mel Rojas and Keon Broxton?

    2 days ago

    Mel Rojas Jr. was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the third round of the 2010 MLB draft. The son of the former big league closer had ...

    Read More
  • Jose Tabata

    The Details of Jose Tabata’s New Swing

    4 days ago

    On Friday I wrote about how Jose Tabata talked to Marlon Byrd over the off-season, aimed at changing his swing to add some leverage, lift the ball, ...

    Read More
  • (Photo Credit: David Hague)

    What Led to Keon Broxton’s Breakout Year in Altoona?

    5 days ago

    Keon Broxton used to be one of the top prospects in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system. Baseball America ranked him as high as tenth in the system ...

    Read More
  • Browse More Articles