Cincinnati Reds prospect Graham Ashcraft may find himself among the Top 10 in the team’s farm system after his latest outing. The right-hander took a no-hitter into the seventh inning last night and hasn’t allowed an earned run over his last seven starts.
The Reds minor league system is loaded with talented pitching prospects, but few are flying as high as Ashcraft. Sure, we all know about Hunter Greene’s 100-plus MPH fastball, and top-ranked prospect Nick Lodolo, but what Ashcraft is doing is extremely impressive.
Currently ranked as the 18th best prospect in Cincinnati’s farm system according to MLB Pipeline, Ashcraft was the club’s sixth-round pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. Hip surgery, coupled with playing for a lesser program in Alabama-Birmingham, saw the right-hander slip in the draft and the Reds plucked the Alabama native with the 174th pick.
Graham Ashcraft is the best Reds prospect you’ve never heard of.
Graham Ashcraft began the 2021 season at Advanced-A Dayton, and made eight starts for the Dragons. Ashcraft went 4-1 with a 2.33 ERA and 55 punch outs over 38.2 innings of work while walking only 13 batters.
After an abbreviated appearance for the Dragons on May 25th versus the Quad City River Bandits saw Ashcraft exit after allowing five runs in 1.2 innings, the right-hander has blanked his last seven opponents. Over the last 43 innings, Ashcraft has yielded one unearned run and struck out 49 batters. That equates to a 32.3% strikeout-rate. That is flat-out getting it done.
So where does Ashcraft fall in terms of the future of the Cincinnati Reds rotation? That’s a great question, and one that’ll take a little while longer to figure out, but his run of seven straight games Ashcraft certainly has the look of a future starter.
With the aforementioned Greene and Lodolo, Cincinnati has a pair of front-of-the-rotation starters who are likely to find their way to the major leagues next season. There’s also Lyon Richardson, a former teammate of Ashcraft’s when the two played together at Advanced-A Dayton.
Richardson is a bit behind Ashcraft in terms of development. After his 10-strikeout performance on June 19th, Richardson’s last two outings have seen the 21-year-old work just 4.2 innings and allow six earned runs on six hits while walking five batters and only striking out six.
Graham Ashcraft has been the Cincinnati Reds most consistent minor league pitcher this season, and has produced better results than both Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo. Ashcraft could be a solid starter in a year or two, or may become a coveted trade chip as the July 30th deadline looms.