In his Double-A debut, Graham Ashcraft struck out eight batters while throwing a complete game shutout for the Chattanooga Lookouts. On Tuesday night things didn’t go quite as well as that, but taking on the Birmingham Barons Ashcraft fired out 5.0 shutout innings while allowing just two hits, walking four batters, and picking up five strikeouts.
It wasn’t an easy start as Graham Ashcraft did struggle at times with his control. But when he did get into trouble he was able to work his way out of it. The biggest threat came in the 5th inning when there were runners on the corners with two outs, but he got a ground out to shortstop to end the inning and strand both runners. That came on his 85th pitch of the game, and it would also be his last as he was replaced when the 6th inning began.
For the big right-handed starter it was his 6th consecutive start where he didn’t allow an earned run, dating back to the 30th of May when he was still with the Dayton Dragons. Graham Ashcraft has thrown 37.0 innings starting on that day without allowing an earned run. On June 6th he was charged with an unearned run against Lake County, marking the only run that’s come across the plate while he’s been on the mound in that stretch of time. He’s walked 10 batters with 43 strikeouts and allowed just 16 hits while being a proverbial groundball machine.
How good has this stretch been for the 6th round draft pick out of UAB back in 2019? Hitters have gone 16-120 against him with a line of .133/.195/.142 line. You are reading that line correctly. In his last six starts he’s allowed 15 singles and one double. That’s it. The one double came in his start on May 30th. It came in the 1st inning of that start. Graham Ashcraft just finished up the month of June not allowing an extra-base hit in five starts that saw him throw 32.0 innings.
Some Arizona Complex League Notes
Last night was game two of the season for the Arizona Complex League Reds and there were a few things worth noting from the game. 2020 2nd round draft pick Bryce Bonnin made the start as he works his way back from an injury suffered in the spring. It was his professional debut and he struck out seven batters while allowing a run in 4.0 innings. I was told that he was throwing 96-98 MPH in the game.
Deivid Alcantara, one of the big signings from the Reds 2019 international signing class, was also making his professional debut. The 18-year-old who was born in Puerto Rico but grew up in the Dominican Republic went 2-3 with a walk, his first professional home run, and he drove in two runs.
Ashton Creal, a 2019 Reds draft pick, is back in Goodyear. He hit .276/.406/.379 for the AZL Reds in 2019 in 48 games. Tuesday night was his second game of the year for what is now known as the ACL Reds and he connected for his first professional home run in his 50th career game.
At some point Graham Ashcraft’s scoreless streak will end of course. Though If he continues his dominance at AA I think he’ll find himself on the fringe of the Red’s top 10 prospects by the end of the season. That would be quite a successful season for him and the organization.
He was successful but not really dominant last night. Had some descent defense played behind him. Not saying he wasn’t good because he was but not dominant like previous games.
Doug, any idea what the plan is for Ashcraft? I assume they have to start thinking about how to limit his innings, right? He’s almost at his previous career high already, and he didn’t have Prasco last season. Is he a strong enough prospect for them to be concerned about overworking him yet?
I’m sure there’s a plan for everyone. What those plans are is a big question. Here’s what I’ve got: Earlier this year Derek Johnson mentioned about the big leaguers that they were kind of “winging it” (my take, he didn’t use this exact phrase) on how to handle the pitchers workload. It was followed up with that they didn’t really know exactly how things would go, but that they would be monitoring everything along the way. The team uses things like the Motus device to measure arm stress, they use other things to determine the level of where the pitchers arm is at compared to previous throwing and that those things, along with how the pitcher says they are feeling, will all come into play as to how the workload will be managed.
In the minors it’s similar. The players are monitored in a similar fashion. Obviously things are a little bit different than the big leaguers as you mentioned. No season last year for most of them, not even the alternate site. But the guys who were healthy were throwing in some form or fashion – they weren’t just sitting around. It wasn’t as “competitive” as being out there in games – adrenaline is real lol. But it’s not entirely like they just sat out a year and didn’t throw, either.
I truly think that every team is still just kind of “winging it” in the sense of that they are playing it by ear. They are doing all that they can to monitor workloads and the health of guys, of course, but you also have to pitch. Games have to be played and completed. You can’t just shut down everyone when August gets here. It’s going to be interesting to see the pitch counts and the innings counts for guys moving forward this year.
I was very surprised and disappointed to Ashcroft throw 100 pitches last week.
I think Ashcraft has overperformed until now, nobody expected it before the season began. If he continues getting success as good as he has did it then should be moved up in the prospects rankings