On Saturday night in Chattanooga Graham Ashcraft was ready to take the mound. He had thrown 43.0 innings without allowing an earned run, stretching back into May. But a small storm was about to roll through. It rained for just under 20 minutes in Chattanooga, but that amount of rain made the field unplayable and the game was postponed. Since Ashcraft had already prepared that day to pitch, he wasn’t going to be asked to pitch the next day (it wouldn’t have mattered – Sunday was postponed as well). That led to him taking the mound in Pensacola last night.
After a 1st inning that saw him strikeout the side, but he went to a full count against the first two batters of the inning and needed 19 pitches to get through the frame. That extended his streak to 44.0 innings.
The 2nd inning saw the wheels not only fall off, but they exploded. In a disastrous inning, Ashcraft allowed the first eight batters of the inning to reach as he walked three batters, allowed four singles, and a double before a pitching change was made and Diomar Lopez was brought in. Before the inning was over all eight runners had scored and Ashcraft had been charged with seven earned runs and one unearned run. The streak was over.
In 16 years there have been a few streaks in the Cincinnati Reds farm system that worth noting. Chris Valaika had a 32-game hit streak in Billings, setting the league record for the Pioneer League. Jose Siri had a 39-game hitting streak in Dayton in 2017 to set a new Midwest League record. Two years ago Jose Acosta needed one hit in his final at-bat of the season to hit .400 for the season between the DSL and AZL Reds (he didn’t get it). All impressive, but at least in my book, none were as impressive as the run that Graham Ashcraft just went on.
Hitters keep on keeping on
TJ Friedl got out to a horrendous start to the season. The outfielder went 2-23 with 10 strikeouts in the first nine games of the season. But Friedl went 2-4 with a home run in that 10th game of the season and the outfielder hasn’t looked back since. He’s played in 49 games since that tough start and he’s gone out and hit .301/.400/.491 with 22 walks and 23 strikeouts in 191 plate appearances. Friedl is now hitting .274/.375/.441 on the season with 18 extra-base hits and seven stolen bases for the Triple-A Louisville Bats.
Lorenzo Cedrola didn’t start out the season as slow as TJ Friedl did. In May he hit .264/.325/.361 for the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts. A fine start to the year for the outfielder, but nothing spectacular. But when the calendar flipped to June he began to heat up and he’s kept it going for six weeks now. Over the last 35 games the native of Venezuela has hit .364/.381/.524 with eight doubles, three triples, and three home runs in 147 plate appearances. He’s only struck out 13 times in that span, too.
Out in Goodyear the Arizona Complex League Reds are about two weeks into their season. One player on the squad has been hotter than the sun in that span. 19-year-old infielder Elly De La Cruz is in his second pro season – he played for the Dominican Summer League Reds in 2019 – and he seems to be making up for some lost time. Last night he went 3-6 with two doubles, three runs scored, and he drove in two runs. It was the 10th game that he had played in. The two doubles gave him six on the season. Oh, and he also has two triples and three home runs on the year. 10 games, 11 extra-base hits, and he’s hitting .383/.442/.787. That works.