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.

16 Responses

  1. LDS

    I agree. Generally, I’ve always thought pitching achievements like Hershiser’s scoreless innings or Ryan’s no-hitters were more difficult than say DiMaggio’s hitting streak or Bonds’ home runs. Not diminishing those accomplishments but a great batter hits .300+, failing 60+% of the time but keeping the streak alive. Pitchers, one and done, a bad pitch, it’s over. A defensive lapse by a team mate, it’s over, etc. And in the modern game, I’m not sure that we’ll ever see another Ripken streak. Hopefully Ashcraft shakes it off and has a good future.

    Reply
    • MK

      Kind of disagree with your premise on the hitting streaks being easier than pitching. The pitchers have eight other players to help them with their streaks the batters are doing it on their own.

      Reply
    • LDS

      I’d like to see a statistical analysis/history that disagrees. Eight other players on the field to screw up and kill a no-hitter etc. seems to be a larger number of variables to potentially ruin a pitcher’s performance. So I welcome the disagreement but would like to see something concrete one way or the other.

      Reply
      • Stock

        In major league history 12 players have pitched 44 consectutive innings without allowing an earned run. 7 players have had hitting streaks of at least 39 games.

        Additionally you reference to 8 players screwing up makes no since. If a player screws up and makes an error, it counts as an unearned run and the streak stays intact.

        From the hitter’s perspective you can hit 4 linedrive in a row. You can be walked 4 times. A pitcher can pull a Gene Garber and end your streak by throwing pitches that are unhittable.

        Say what you want but if 12 players have gone 44 innings without allowing an earned run and only 7 have had a 39 game hitting streak it is difficult to convince me that a 39 game hitting streak is easier. Furthermore, look at the hitters who did it. Three had career BA of at least .340. Pete Rose had the 6th highest career BA on the list and everyone above Pete (Cobb, Sisler, DiMaggio, Keeler and Molitor) are in the hall of fame. It takes a special player and a lot of luck to have a 39 game hitting streak.

      • LDS

        How many batters in your population? How many pitchers? Are relief pitchers included? Can’t just be raw counts. Is a 44 inning scoreless streak an achievement on par with a 39 game hitting streak? Lots of ways to slice & dice the numbers.

  2. DanD

    Since Acosta was close to hitting .400 2 years ago, where is he now?

    Reply
    • Mort

      I think that he was the one that we traded to get Scott Heineman. Just looked him up and he is now hitting .250 with a .672 OPS in high A for the Rangers.

      Reply
    • LDS

      Not a surprise. Gary Redus his .462 at Billings and made it to the ML but never hit .300. I have friends who were outstanding high school and college baseball players that tapped out by the time they hit AA. Just like going through school, every year gets tougher and the competition harder. Soon or later you’re not the smartest kid in the room or the best athlete on the field. There’s always someone better. But it never means that you weren’t good.

      Reply
  3. kevinz

    Congrats Ashcraft heck of a streak.
    Now hopefully a Bounce back.
    Steal at this Point.
    Nice see Friedl Performing.
    Seems like a Perfect depth Piece.
    Cedrola looks like a good find in trade we made.

    Reply
  4. Stock

    interesting comparison between Ashcraft’s 44 inning scoreless streak and Siri’s 39 game hitting streak. I think from what you would rather have a prospect accomplish, a 44 inning scoreless streak is superior to that of a 39 game hitting streak. But if you consider impressive to be something of a rariety then the 39 game hitting streak is far more impressive than the 44 inning scoreless streak. One you have to be on top of your game for 39 straight games and that included one game where Siri pinch hit. The scoreless streak is 6 or 7 games for the most part.
    Historically speaking:

    Ashcraft’s streak would rank a tied for 12th in ML history. Siri would be tied for 7th.

    If you looked at recent history, Paul Molitor was the last player to have a hitting streak of at least 39 games. Since then Orel Hershiser, Zack Greinke and RA Dickey have had streaks of at least 44 consectutive scoreless innings.

    If you go back to when travel became a factor (Dodgers and Giants move to CA) you add Bob Gibson, Don Drysdale and Pete Rose to the list.

    if you go back to the end of the dead ball era Ashcraft moves up to #8 and Siri moves up to number a tie for 3rd or 4th.

    If you look at the quality of the players with the idea that if something is really difficult to do it the list will include mostly hall of fame players or players who should be in the hall.

    In front of or tied with Siri (Dimaggio (HOF), Keeler (HOF), Rose (stats to be in HOF), Dahlen (borderline to HOF), Sisler (HOF), Cobb (HOF) and Molitor (HOF).

    Half the players with 44 consecutive scoreless inning are in the HOF.

    Siri’s streak was without a doubt more difficult. Both streaks are impressive. Ashcraft’s performance is better from the prospect potential point of view. Siri went from outside the top 25 to the top 10. Ashcraft will probably be in the top 6. He will undoubtedly be int the top 10.

    Reply
    • Doc

      Where Ashcroft jumps will undoubtedly be based on his body of work for the year, not on one 44 inning stretch of superb pitching.

      Reply
      • Doug Gray

        Those 44 innings represent 75% of the season.

    • Tom

      This is an interesting debate. I don’t know which is more impressive, but as someone who saw each of Siri’s hits and about half of Ashcraft’s streak, I would say the Siri streak was more dramatic, simply because he was closing in on a finite record that everyone knew about. He had four or five “moments” each night to try to extend the streak and those moments were maxed out with supercharged drama. Once the streak got to about 30 (the record was 35), it was the most exciting thing I have ever seen in Minor League Baseball. The way the streak ended was also very emotional (to use one possible description among several possible ones). Some might forget that the hit the broke the record shot past, of all people, Fernando Tatis Jr.

      Reply
  5. James K

    Yes, the Cedrola trade looks great, especially considering that all the Reds gave in return was ” international amateur signing bonus pool space.” In other words, the right to spend more money.

    Reply

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