The answer someday, in seven or eight years, just might be Brad Lincoln.
The question? Which former Curve player has gone on to have the best major league career?
The key word there, as of Saturday evening, is former. Lincoln, one of the best pitchers in Curve history and the best part of this bad season, was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis.
"I was told today earlier, and I was very excited," Lincoln said after Altoona's 4-0 win over Connecticut before 4,617 fans at Blair County Ballpark.
Lincoln was nothing short of terrific for the Curve, ranking third in the Eastern League in ERA (2.28) and fourth in strikeouts (65). His 1-5 record is deceiving because his offense rarely supplied much run support.
"I feel that I can compete anywhere," Lincoln said. "My mentality takes over, the fact that I want to win, I want to be that guy that people go to and hand the ball to in a big situation."
Lincoln was the Pirates' first-round draft pick in 2006 but missed the 2007 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. The second year back after that procedure is always key, and Lincoln has excelled so far.
He has been hitting 95 mph consistently, has continued to develop his offspeed pitches and has been close to unhittable at times. He has shown the potential to be a front-of-the-rotation starter in the big leagues.
"He definitely did better than a lot of us expected, not only with the numbers that he put up but with his character and his presence on the mound," Curve manager Matt Walbeck said.
Lincoln's 2.28 ERA is third best all-time for a Curve starting pitcher with at least 55 innings. Shane Youman (1.51 in 2006) and Sam McConnell (1.61 in 2000) are tops. Zach Duke had a 1.58 ERA in 2004 but isn't eligible for the record book as he worked just 51 1/3 innings.
Lincoln spent just two-and-a-half months in Altoona, which is merely another stop on the minor league ladder for him. But he will be remembered here as one of the best players in franchise history.
"To a point, yeah, you look at where you leave your mark on a place," he said. "Hopefully I've treated the fans here well and I've enjoyed being around everybody and meeting new people. ... The fans are great, and it's a great baseball town."