HARRISBURG - Rudy Owens could pitch and likely succeed in Triple-A right now. Same goes for Justin Wilson and Tony Watson.
Josh Harrison could more than hold his own against pitching at the higher level at this point. So could Matt Hague and Jordy Mercer.
If the Pirates were so inclined, they could raid the Curve roster and ship those core young guys to Indianapolis soon. But the good news is that A) they don't plan to do that and B) they really don't have to.
"I don't see a scenario where we're going to tear that club apart and give a bunch of guys promotions to Triple-A," Pirates farm director Kyle Stark said Wednesday.
Given that, the Curve front office should go ahead and start printing playoff tickets.
With an eight-game lead in the Western Division and the prospect of having the nucleus of the club remain intact, it's a lock Altoona will return to the postseason for the first time since 2006 and fifth time ever.
The Curve have several of the Eastern League's best hitters and pitchers, and under different circumstances, many of them would be in line for midseason promotions to Triple-A.
This year, however, the big difference with many of Altoona's best players is that they are either in their first season in Double-A or had very little time at this level prior to this year. They've been good - and in some cases very good - at times, but there's simply no need to rush them.
"We're talking about a young club," Stark said. "The core of that club is still very young.
"Baseball today," Stark added, "you have a good half, you have a good couple months, immediately the question is: When's he going to be promoted, why is he still here? We obviously don't operate that way. We've got a core group of guys that are in their second year of professional baseball that are already at Double-A."
Some Curve players could get promoted soon, perhaps older or more experienced ones like pitchers Derek Hankins and Michael Dubee, outfielder Gorkys Hernandez or catcher Hector Gimenez. Losing any of those would hurt the club, and losing several would do a lot of damage.
Still, the core group of young guys would remain in place to provide a foundation for success.
"At the end of the day, we're not sitting here feeling compelled like we've got to get some guys to the Triple-A level," Stark said.
It's impressive enough that the young prospects have adapted so well to Double-A and led the Curve to an EL-best 55-34 record. As good as they've been so far, most of them should be able to improve in the second half now that they're familiar with the level.
That's if they stay focused on the task at hand and not get wrapped up about when they may be promoted to Triple-A.
"It's a long season, there's a long way to go," Curve manager Matt Walbeck said. "It's important for us not to get too excited about what our numbers are and what our record is, and more importantly just to go out and play the game the way it's supposed to be played."
Which is what the club has done since opening day.
"It's just been an absolute pleasure," Walbeck said of working with this year's players. "We have a group of guys that love to play baseball and really like to work hard in practice.
"It's been one of those years where the ball's really bounced our way. We've had some good breaks and we've been able to overcome a few things, but all in all it's been a real memorable year."
One that may get even more memorable come September if these core guys are still in place and can help the Curve win their first EL championship.
Cory Giger can be reached at 949-7031 and firstname.lastname@example.org.