After the game on Saturday afternoon, Cincinnati Reds manager told the assembled media that Graham Ashcraft would be the starting pitcher on Sunday. Ashcraft, the Reds #5 rated prospect, will be starting in place of Connor Overton who is reportedly dealing with back soreness.

Sunday will be the Major League debut for Graham Ashcraft. The big right-handed starter was Cincinnati’s 6th round draft pick in 2019 and he’s made a quick rise through the farm system when we consider that there was no 2020 season. Last year he split time between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga where he posted a 3.00 ERA in 111.0 innings over 22 starts. At one point he didn’t allow an earned run for 44 consecutive innings.

This season he’s spent the full year with the Triple-A Louisville Bats. He’s made seven starts with Louisville and posted a 1.65 ERA in 32.2 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting .240/.333/.248 against him. And no, that is not a typo. He has allowed just one extra-base hit – a double – in 150 plate appearances this season. Ashcraft’s 71.2% ground ball rate is the best in minor league baseball in 2022.

For the most part you’re going to see Graham Ashcraft work with a fastball that works 97-99 on most days and has touched 101, a cutter, and a low-80’s slider. All three pitchers are above-average or better. At times you will also see a change up, though it doesn’t show up all that frequently and it’s almost always going to be against left-handed hitters. Ashcraft will also show a curveball at times. For the most part he throws strikes, though he has had two starts this year where he struggled to find the zone. Often he’s got more control than he does command (throws strikes, but misses in the zone). The stuff can be good enough for that to work when he’s at his best.

Ashcraft is a “substitute” player on this road trip to Toronto. He’ll head back to Triple-A once the series wraps up unless the team makes a 40-man roster move to add him and then also calls him up to the 26-man roster. That could very well happen depending on what happens between tomorrow and the next time that Connor Overton needs to pitch in a game and how his back feels. Mike Minor should be ready to join the rotation this next week, so that is also going to be in play.

21 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    OK … really looking forward to this. Seems a bit “trial by fire” considering the Jays, but everybody’s got to have a first start, right?

    • DaveCT

      He doesn’t seem one to be intimidated.

  2. Votto4life

    This is exactly what the Reds should be doing, giving their young players opportunities to play.

    Like everyone else I enjoy it when the Reds win, but the Reds are 17 under .500. They are on pace to finish 46-116. Yes, they will play better when (and if) they get healthy, but there is still probably no chance of them avoiding 100 losses and probably the worst record in franchise history.

    The Reds must give young players like Ashcraft, Diaz and Jose Barrero opportunities to avoid this being a totally wasted season.

    After the trading deadline has passed, I can’t wait for the off season, it the hope that the Reds somehow alter their current disastrous course.

    • MBS

      I’d agree with you on play the young, but today for example. Ashcraft is making his debut. He is known as a ground ball pitcher, he has like a 71% ground ball rate. If they started Lopez at 2B or 3B, he’d be replacing better infield defenders. It might be better for Lopez, but not for Ashcraft.

  3. JB

    Definitely will be excited to watch the young man.

  4. Art

    I saw Minor pitch in Nashville last night. I don’t think that he is ready to pitch against ML hitters.

    • MK

      On tv that he looked better than his pitching line reads.

  5. Optimist

    Let me get this straight (or I’ll go find the rulebook for this) – he could be lights out tomorrow, get a W and pile up other stats, and NOT be on either the 40-man nor the 26-man rosters?

    Wonder how often that happens.

  6. Rednat

    i think it is a smart move. the reds have little to no chance on winning tomorrow anyway. so why waste a start with Overton. let the rookie get his feet wet. at least we will have a chance to win a couple of games with the cubs so let overton start one of those games

    • Rednat

      and honestly i think the reds and other small market clubs should use this strategy more. don’t waste your best pitchers against the power clubs like the dodgers and yankees, you probably will not win any way so you keep your aces available for games you have a better chance of winning

  7. IndyRedsFan

    I predict Overton’s back will be better on Monday and he’ll make that start.

    The Reds were going to need a 5th starter on Monday. Ashcraft is only on the Roster for the Toronto series as a replacement for the unvacccinated… starting him today, and pushing Overton to Monday was a way to fill that need.

    • RedsGettingBetter

      It is possible, since Overton has not been placed on IL yet… maybe he’s on day to day status

    • Jim Walker

      Sounds like a plan to me.

      I wonder who officially tracks all the ins and outs of the COVID related roster rules? It has to be a zoo. FWIW (or not) the official Reds website says in the “Transactions” that on May 20, Ashcraft’s contract (and Aquino’s and Motter’s) were “selected” from the Louisville bats. That’s the typical terminology used when a guy is added to the 40 man roster. The site also shows all 3 on the “40 man” and 26 man “active list.”

      Dollars to donuts, when all is said and done there is going to be all manner of sorting out to determine service times and salaries accrued; and in the process, it will turn out some teams were over rostered for some games.

  8. Ols-school

    We are fully in sorting and development mode at this point. Greene was great then bad and back on schedule in his development for 2022.

    Give ashcraft some mlb experience
    Continue the bullpen sorting

    What we are really seeing is beyond India and Stephenson, the offense is going to need 2-3 more young guys to develop – barrero and Mcclain and Senzel need 2022 AND 2-3 outside players

    Phillies 18-22 and $230 mil payroll are getting old or one dimensional quick

    Hoskins Schwarber Bohn Castellanos and Gregorius all bad defensively with varying degrees of offense

    Realmuto aging quickly

    Gotta stay young.

  9. JB WV

    Excited to see him pitch. Not excited to see Minor pitch. No offense to Minor, but I wish they’d just waive him and let the young guys grow this year.

  10. Hotto4Votto

    I wonder how many players have made their ML debut before being added to the 40-man roster. Probably a short and very recent list. Congrats to Ashcroft on the oppportunity.

    • Mark Moore

      I’d wager nobody has since the 40-man was established. The only reason it’s happening today is because of the weird times we’re living in.

      Here’s to Ashcraft’s debut and today’s line-up. The Jays are running out 63 RBI’s in their 1-3 hitters and another 31 just a few batters below that. At least TySteve, Naquin, and Farmer are in the line-up (they total 58 RBI’s). It’s going to take a lot of run support today, and we’ve not exactly seen that on this little trip.

  11. MBS

    Excited to see Ashcraft! This is the 3rd rookie starting pitcher of the year, and all 3 deserved their debut. That doesn’t happen every year!

  12. jim m

    I think todays start from Ashcraft will determine the Reds FO deciding when or who to trade of between Mahle and Castillo

  13. Fanman

    Rookie starters Greene, Lodolo, Overton and Ashcroft, good. San Martin not so much.