This is the easiest Curve midseason report card we've ever done.
It's not rocket science figuring out that a team with the second-best record in all of professional baseball deserves the highest grade possible.
This has been, so far, the best team in the franchise's 12-year history.
It improved to a season-high 20 games over .500 Saturday.
It has the best record in Double-A.
It is a fun team to watch - one that does everything well, plays the game the right way and is made up of quality young prospects and quality young men.
Teams with the best records in all of professional baseball (minors and majors):
Best of the bunch
The Curve's midseason individual distinctions:
Best all-around: Alex Presley
Best hitter: Alex Presley
Best starting pitcher: Rudy Owens
Best reliever: Daniel Moskos
Biggest surprise: Alex Presley
Biggest disappointment: Tim Alderson
Unsung hero: Derek Hankins
Co-MVPs: Alex Presley, Hector Gimenez
This team is, in every way, the exact opposite of the awful squad we saw during the first half of 2009. That Curve club had the worst record in all the minor leagues for a while, was painful to watch and received an overall grade of F in the midseason report card.
The old cliche of "what a difference a year makes" has never been more appropriate.
What does it tell you about a staff when a pitcher with the Eastern League's best ERA can't even crack the starting rotation?
Derek Hankins holds that distinction with a 1.82 ERA, but he has had to pitch primarily out of the bullpen because the team has five promising prospects in the rotation: Rudy Owens (2.93 ERA), Justin Wilson (3.02), Bryan Morris (4.22), Tim Alderson (4.70) and Jared Hughes (3.70), the league leader with nine wins.
All five starters have a good chance of reaching the big leagues. Morris has the best stuff, Owens is the most polished right now and Alderson has made strides after a rough start.
The Curve lead the EL in team ERA (3.30), and the starters are the main reason why. Grade: A+
Not to sound like a broken record, but for the 10th time already, why is Daniel Moskos still in Double-A? If his 1.57 ERA and 14 saves in 15 tries aren't impressive enough, ponder this: How many lefty closers in all of baseball can throw 96 mph like Moskos?
Michael Dubee (1.41 ERA) also has been outstanding. Then there's Hankins, who has excelled in five starts and 10 relief appearances.
Lefty Tony Watson has been the under-the-radar guy, but all he's done is post a 2.16 ERA and .184 opponents' batting average.
When the Curve get a lead, the game's over because the bullpen has been exceptional. Grade: A+
Where did Alex Presley come from? He hit in the .250s the past two years at Single-A Lynchburg, but this season he's been unstoppable. Presley's .351 average has him on pace to break Jeff Keppinger's single-season record of .338 set in 2004, and he, too, deserves to be in Triple-A.
The Curve are second in the EL in team batting average (.267) and third in runs (337). The offense may not have one superstar slugger, and some of the key hitters have been at .250 or below, but they all find a way to contribute at key times. That's the mark of a good offense.
Hector Gimenez has been fantastic with 10 homers, 38 RBIs and a .331 average, while Josh Harrison (.300) and Matt Hague (.293) have been steady all year.
Chase d'Arnaud (.238) and Gorkys Hernandez (.248) have heated up after slow starts, and if they hit to their potential, the offense will continue to excel. Grade: A
This is the team's weakest area statistically, although it has never really been an issue.
The Curve are tied for eighth in the league with 63 errors, but 28 of those have been by two players. Shortstop d'Arnaud has 18, while Harrison has 10 between second and third base, and both need to show more range as they develop.
Harrison is now at third base, and Jordy Mercer has moved from third to second. That may help Mercer's chances of developing into a major leaguer, but it's a negative for the diminutive Harrison. He needs to be getting experience at second because he doesn't translate at all as a third baseman up the line. Grade B
Matt Walbeck has taken more chances on the basepaths and has used the bunt effectively, things the Curve have rarely done in recent years. Pitching coach Tom Filer and hitting coach Ryan Long have done a tremendous job, as the statistics show. Grade A+
The 2004 team finished a franchise-record 29 games over .500, catching fire with the late-season additions of Brad Eldred and Zach Duke. If the core players stay together on this team, it should beat that mark. Grade: A+
At the ballpark
Attendance is down about 7 percent, but far worse, there were numerous nights early on when only about 300-400 showed up. Very disappointing. The Curve staff is doing a nice job of keeping things lively with good promotions, but it appears many people just don't want to come out to the ballpark very often, if at all, before June. Grade: C