On Thursday night two of the hardest throwers in the Cincinnati Reds organization took the mound for the Dayton Dragons and the Louisville Bats. Their outcomes were a little bit different. Graham Ashcraft threw 5.0 shutout innings and struck out seven batters in a Dayton win. Hunter Greene was making his Triple-A debut and allowed four home runs – the only hits he allowed – in 4.0 innings while striking out eight hitters.
On May 25th Graham Ashcraft allowed five earned runs in 1.2 innings against the Quad Cities River Bandits. He’s made four starts since then and he hasn’t allowed an earned run along the way, capping things off on Thursday. The righty allowed two hits – both singles – in the top of the 3rd inning. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners up, but Ashcraft struck out the next two batters on eight pitches to strand the runners, end the inning, and hold onto a 2-0 lead. A walk in the 5th inning and a stolen base put a runner in scoring position once again, but just like before it was a strikeout that would end the threat and the inning to preserve the lead and shutout. That wound up being the final inning for Ashcraft.
He was charged with an unearned run on June 5th in Lake County, but after his outing on Thursday night he has now gone 23.0 innings without allowing an earned run, lowering his ERA on the season to 2.33 in the process. That’s the third best ERA in the High-A Central. The big right-handed starter now has 55 strikeouts to go with just 13 walks in 38.2 innings pitched for the Dragons this year. He’s also yet to allow a home run. That’s been in part to a 55% groundball rate this season – but all of those strikeouts don’t hurt, either.
A mixed bag in Hunter Greene’s AAA debut
On Thursday night in Omaha we got an idea of why the Storm Chasers were leading the Triple-A East in home runs…. they play in a little league ballpark. Hunter Greene allowed four home runs in 4.0 innings in his Triple-A debut with the Louisville Bats. He also struck out eight batters while walking just one hitter.
Video Courtesy of MiLB.tv
But let’s talk about the four home runs. The first one that Hunter Greene allowed was a wall scraper down the left field line. The distance to the wall in left field? That would be 310 feet. Even in Great American Ball Park it’s a tough sell to say that ball makes it into the stands. And the wind was blowing out on the night.
The next home run he gave up was to dead center. That alone makes it a ball that wasn’t really missed. But it, too, was a wall scraper. It’s probably not going out on a day when the wind isn’t blowing out. Of course the wind was blowing out a little bit and it still went 400 feet. The third home run was just crushed. It landed about 40 feet beyond the wall in left center. It wasn’t wind aided or down the line in a little league stadium – it was crushed. The 4th home run was also to dead center and went off of the batters eye just beyond the wall. It probably was going out in most ballparks.
It was a strange start for Hunter Greene. In the 1st inning he was missing his spots, no doubt. Maybe he was amped up for the promotion – he reached back for 104 MPH in the 1st inning – or perhaps it was just one of those nights. The control wasn’t there in the game even though he only walked one batter and threw strikes on 63% of his pitches on the night. When guys made contact, which wasn’t often as Greene struck out 8 of the 17 hitters he faced, it was all or nothing. Four home runs, but a lot of weak contact on the other batted balls.