Altoona Sending Five Players to Eastern League All-Star Game

The Eastern League announced the rosters for their July 15th All-Star game on Wednesday and five players from the Altoona Curve are on the Western squad. The Curve will be represented by pitcher Jason Creasy, first baseman Josh Bell, infielder Dan Gamache, INF/OF Adam Frazier and second baseman Max Moroff.

Moroff(pictured above) has been the biggest surprise in the minors for the Pirates this year, although Frazier is quickly gaining on him. Moroff is second in the EL in batting average with a .323 mark, just one point behind the leader. He also ranks ninth in OPS, first in runs, first in hits, third in OBP, third in walks, fourth in total bases and tied for seventh in doubles.

Josh Bell has had trouble in the field during his first full year at first base, but his hitting has been great all season. He is third in the EL in batting, third in OBP(one point behind Moroff), second in hits, first in triples, fifth in total bases(two behind Moroff), fourth in walks(one behind Moroff) and eighth in OPS.

Dan Gamache got off to a horrible start this season, and missed some time, so he doesn’t qualify for league leaders. In 156 at-bats, he is hitting .308/.349/.468 with five homers and eight doubles. He was hitting .079 through the first full month of the season.

Adam Frazier missed the first month due to a hand injury and he hasn’t been in the lineup everyday, so he’s a bit of a surprise based only on the fact he has 124 at-bats all season. He has been the better hitter for Altoona since his return, batting .363/.419/.484, with a .419 average in his last nine games. With Gift Ngoepe promoted to Indianapolis, Frazier has started twice in a row at shortstop. He has spent more time in center field, but has also played third base and left field this year.

Jason Creasy is the only pitcher on the staff, which would have been hard to believe at the end of April when Altoona had the best ERA in all of baseball. Since then, Tyler Glasnow has been injured, Angel Sanchez has been promoted and both Chad Kuhl and Zack Dodson have cooled down. Creasy himself hasn’t been as good as early in the year either. His 8-1 record probably helped him get into the All-Star game. He has a 2.99 ERA in 87.1 innings, but his 32:36 BB/SO ratio leaves something to be desired. Creasy ranks 14th in the league in ERA.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 1, 2015 2:55 pm

    So, is it safe to assume that Moroff is clearly the Pirates biggest breakout player in the minor league system? I can’t think of anyone who comes close. Other candidates could include Ramirez, Frazier??

    • I’d argue Barrett Barnes.

      Better overall production, and without the help of an insane BABIP.

      Moroff is doing what he’s doing at a higher MiLB level and almost two years younger, but Barnes had essentially missed all game action but for a few months here and there over the past thee seasons.

      Barnes does have more expected of him with a higher pedigree and far better tools/athleticism so maybe that factors into Moroff being the bigger breakout.

      • I think that Moroff is the breakout player of the system thus far. Like NMR mentioned, he’s 2 yrs younger than Barnes, facing a much higher level of competition, and he’s young for the league. That being said, comparing the performance between players is relative, and it seems that 22 y.o. Moroff’s performance at AA is better than ~24 y.o. Barnes at A+.

        On a side note, it’s hard for me to evaluate Barnes because he’s injury-prone, i.e. he hasn’t surpassed 183 ab in a season since he got drafted in ’12. Sure he’s got talent and performing well this year, but pedrigree/tools don’t mean a thing if he isn’t on the field. To put any kind of high label on Barnes, he needs to perform for a full season, or at least put together around 400 ab.

  • Max Moroff is the biggest improvement in the Pirate System in 2015. He batted .233 in Lo A and .244 in Hi A and now is off the charts in AA. P2 had him as the 43rd Prospect in 2014, and not even in the Top 50 for 2015. Gap power, plenty of doubles, excellent defensively, a switchhitter, and only 22.

    So, if we can move Walker to 1B, have Hanson, 22, and Moroff at 2B/3B, and find a switchhitting, excellent fielding, young Shortstop like say, Cole Tucker, 19, who is lighting it up and playing excellent defense at Lo A, we would have a full infield of switchhitters. Three of that foursome will be in our infield within 3 years, and the 4th will be Josh Bell. Nice work by our management team.

    • Patrick Kelly
      July 1, 2015 2:48 pm

      I wish people would knock it off with this Walker to 1B nonsense. The guy isn’t hitting well enough to be a 2B, let alone 1B. The teams best bet would be to park Walkers ass on the bench and go with Kang, Mercer, Harrison, and Pedro/Rodriguez around the IF. Walker will be lucky to get tendered in the offseason. At his current pace, he is not going to be nearly worth what it will cost to keep him.

      Hanson should be ready to go by the end of the year and/or next spring if they are concerned about his years of control. Moroff and Frazier will likely move up to AAA next year for additional seasoning. The infield you are suggesting won’t be an option until 2018 at the earliest with Tucker being in WV right now. Also don’t forget he is getting lapped by Newman, so he may find himself in the bigs for a different organization.

      • Walker actually with a better wRC+ at this moment that Harrison. If Walker isnt hitting well enough to play 2B, neither is Harrison overall. Harrison SLG is bad and his OBP is bad. Relying on getting a hit to get on base and not driving the ball all that well overall. Odd as it is, Walker has been worth the same WAR and a better offensive player overall so far.

        • You both have solid points. This is not the kind of argument we’d like to be having. 😉

          • I can rustle up some totally without statistical backing dislike of a random player to base an opinion off of (for the good of the site of course). The Harrison kid cant even keep his helmet on, i mean what kind of good player loses his helmet so much!

            • you sound like me complaining about Cervelli dropping pitches all the time, hahahaha! I also really dislike how demonstrative he (cervelli)is when he is arguing balls and strikes when he’s hitting, he is the biggest whiney baby ever, I can’t wait till an umpire tosses him out for showing them up- that being said, I have no complaints about his play anymore 😉

              • So long as he knows where the line is and doesnt get tossed, i like my teams catcher letting the ump know when he thinks he missed one. Put pressure on the ump to be consistent because they generally arent. If anything, im sure the pitchers love that he goes to battle for each pitch.

                • Half of the time Cervelli argues, it’s when he is hitting (which isn’t the right time to do it) and he is usually wrong. if anything he should applaud a bigger zone because it helps his pitcher. A catcher should never be arguing when he is hitting….ever unless the game is on the line, not with a borderline 1-1 pitch in the 4th inning.

                  • Him applauding a bigger zone would be dependent on that zone being equally consistent, something that is far from true.

                    I see no rational basis for a catcher never being allowed to argue while hitting, he has the same idea of what the zone is then as when catching. Its fine to think that, but if he isnt getting thrown out it doesnt seem a big issue. Doesnt really hurt the zone against us, because he generally knows the zone and whats being called way better than a fan.

                    • I’m not saying it makes him a bad player. It just personally leaves a very bad taste in my mouth and annoys me as a fan, nothing more. I’ve literally never seen any catcher in 30 years be as blatantly disrespectful to home plate umpires as he is while hitting. It is not classy

                    • I assume you played baseball in high school and likely in college just like I did. Can you tell me that you wouldn’t have been thrown out of every game if you acted like him? We would have.

                    • What you say matters, in my experience. Discussing where the zone is and stuff like “isnt that down?” never got an ump mad at me. Even the 2nd or 3rd time. Its when you state it as fact that upset umps, like “thats low, you missed it”. Idk, i also hope they give professionals more give than kids.

                    • there is a difference between looking back and asking where something was politely, or saying that was a ball, without drawing attention to yourself and what We’ve all seen Cervelli do. I can GIF you about 50 times this year where after a strike he grits his teeth and arches his backand reacts like he is in complete disbelief that someone just called it a strike, then on top of that actually saying something to the umpire as well, shaking his head, and making a huge production about it. That is the definition of showing up an umpire. I mean, if he was correct or it was a really bad call thats one thing, but i truthfully do not recall one of those times happening which actually showed the pitch outside the zone when they put up that “pitch trax” feature. There isn’t a single player on the Pirates team that acts that way, it is not the Pittsburgh way, and I don’t like it. It’s my opinion. He is a good player, but I really don’t like that or appreciate it as a fan

                    • THere he goes again in the 9th inning, perfectly good pitch on the corner, acting like a 12 year old…..just swing the damn bat cervelli…..maybe taking pitches on the corner with 2 strikes is a bad idea?

                    • Him arguing balls and strikes isnt acting like a 12 year old, thatd be what Yadi did during the double header in CHC recently. Arguing happens, so long as you arent tossed who cares. Its weird to get so mad at him for that.

                    • whatever…..

        • Harrison’s overall OPS is irrelevant given how HORRID he was in April, As far as they are playing right now, Harrison is and has been pulling his weight since May1 and if this series against the Tigers is any indication, Neil might be able to get there fast as well. Still- he is no first baseman and i’m sure if he was reading this, he’d tell you to stop with the nonsense about him playing 1st base as well

          • Yeah. im sure he would say “yeah im not good enough to play 1B” that sounds like the confidence of a ML player. Harrison is hitting well, but he isnt getting on base apart from his hits and thats not ideal because if he has poor luck with the balls he hits, 0 room for error. Walker is now red hot and was able to tread water because he does walk enough. Both good options, but Harrison will be susceptible to variance in his stats if he keeps being as free swinging and lacking walks.

            • If Harrison walked, and wasn’t a free swinger, half of his doubles would be gone because he hits balls very well. I don’t mind a lack of walks when a player does something useful when he goes out of the zone. Marte for example hits way better when he’s disciplined, that’s because he doesn’t hit balls well at all, same thing with Alvarez, and walker. You have to realize that you can’t put all players in one cup and gauge them on OBP, it’s just a small piece of the value they provide

              • I dont use just OBP, i look at the entire picture and use things like wRC+ to measure his entire worth. And by that, he’s actually worse overall this year than Kang. Its fine to devalue walks, but its a piece of the puzzle. Moderate to low power, few walks, meaning his value is when he hits the ball it being a hit. He does well at that, but it limits his effectiveness at times.

                • fair enough. I have no problem with that way of thinking, its well rounded. Quite honestly, with Harrison batting leadoff, it would be helpful if he did walk occasionally, given his position in the lineup. I can’t argue with that. Now, if he hit 6th or 7th, I would argue with the value of a walk in that position. Kang did start off pretty well, but is on the decline right now, so those stats may not hold. I think we are hoping Kang will have as much value as Harrison, so them having relatively equal years to me, isn’t so bad. We’ll see how he does manning 3rd for the next 6 weeks with Harrison gone

  • Nobody seems to discuss Gamache much but he’s been a hitter, so his D must be pretty bad.
    Is his upside something like Alex Presley type bat with no D – if so where does that land him in the future… ? Or is there a fit as a DH type long term?

    • Gamache is having his best year at bat and has shown a lot of power. Nobody would ever call him a defensive specialist at 3B – his stats are Pedro-esque. And then there is the fact he is 24 already. If traded to an AL team, I still doubt he would be MLB material – just a bad combo of age, size, and no position. But, he’s a gamer.