Buried Treasure Top 30 Prospects
#20 - Matt Curry
Measurables: 6'1, 215
Bats: L, Throws: R
Acquired: 16th Round (477th), 2010
Buried Treasure 2012 Top 20: #15
In 2010, the Pirates confirmed their affinity with TCU first baseman Matt Curry. They had drafted Curry two years prior, in 2008, when he had been at Howard College, a junior college in Texas. In college, Curry showed the ability to hit for power and draw a walk. Defensively, Curry was already relegated to first base in college, meaning his bat would need to carry him.
Curry signed quickly enough as a college senior to get plenty of playing time in 2010. He was sent to State College, where he excelled, posting a .299/.421/.477 line that featured 7 homeruns in 240 plate appearances. Curry also walked at an extraordinarily high rate - 16.3% of the time - but he also struck out at a clip just under 20%. Overall, Curry dominated with a slight strikeout problem, but as a college senior who turned 22 while in NYPL, domination was all but expected, or at least required for Curry to have any status as a prospect at all.
2011 opened with Curry receiving a promotion to Low-A where he played first base for the West Virgina Power. Curry came out of spring training blistering hot. In 195 plate appearances, Curry mashed his way to an insane .361/.477/.671 line, buoyed by 9 homeruns and a 35:29 BB:K ratio. Curry was the beneficiary of a .392 BABIP, but part of that had to do with the fact that he blistered seemingly everything pitched at him. As a 22 year-old who would turn 23 in July, Curry was expected to do well in Low-A, but his absolute dominance managed to raise the eyebrows of some in prospecting circles. The Pirates also took note, promoting Curry to Double-A Altoona, bypassing High-A Bradenton entirely.
There, Curry began to struggle. His high whiff rate began to get the best of him, as he struck out 25.6% of the time (compared to 14.9% in Low-A) compared to a 9.4% BB rate (17.9% in Low-A). Curry posted a .242/.320/.374 line in Double-A in 351 plate appearances, slugging only 6 homeruns. Clearly, Curry's transition in Altoona was a bit rough, but he actually got better as the second half wore on and put himself in an age appropriate situation, finishing the year at age 23 and in Double-A.
Curry's rocky first shot at Double-A led the Pirates to send the first baseman back to Altoona to start the 2012 season. Take two was better for the TCU grad, although not nearly as good as his explosion at Low-A the previous season. For the year in 2012, Curry posted a .285/.352/.480 line in 450 plate appearances. His strikeout and walk rates improved, but only in the slightest compared to his stint in Double-A in 2011. The one noticeable improvement for Curry was his power. He hit 11 homeruns and posted a .194 ISO that compared favorably to the .132 mark Curry posted in Altoona in 2011.
That said, Curry's power output was still fairly low considering the context. As a 24 year-old - he turned 24 in July - in Double-A who is also limited to defensively to first base, a higher homerun number and ISO would be ideal, especially considering those numbers will more likely decrease than increase up the ladder considering Curry's age. In addition, Curry's plate discipline is adequate at best at the moment. Overall, Curry is a long shot to ever be a starter in the big leagues, even a marginal one. That said, he's nearly ready to play in the major leagues and with improvement as he transitions to the big leagues instead of the expected decrease in production, Curry could be an acceptable starter at the first base position. To do that, he will need to refine his plate discipline further and add to his power. At this point, Curry's isn't even close to an elite prospect, but he's solid depth in a solid farm system.