Should the Reds follow this unconventional approach with Graham Ashcraft in 2022?

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Graham Ashcraft (51) throws a pitch.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Graham Ashcraft (51) throws a pitch. / Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
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Graham Ashcraft is one of the top-rated prospects in the Cincinnati Reds farm system, and his time in Louisville might be coming to an end very soon.

Ashcraft is 3-1 on the season and owns a 1.65 ERA. His strikeout numbers are the not the best, but he's getting batters out. Soon enough, the Reds brass is going to have no choice but to get Ashcraft to the big leagues.

Strange as it may seem, perhaps the best way to do that this season is to allow Ashcraft to pitch out of the bullpen. We've seen other organizations take a similar approach in recent years.

Chicago White Sox pitcher Michael Kopech began his big league career as a reliever and so did Boston Red Sox right-hander Tanner Houck. Both are now starters in the major leagues. This may be the best way to get Graham Ashcraft accustomed to facing big league hitters.

Should the Reds move Graham Ashcraft to the bullpen?

There are many scouts that feel as Graham Ashcraft might be a better reliever than a starter. That may be true, but I think the Cincinnati Reds owe it to themselves and Ashcraft to allow him to try his hand at starting in the big leagues.

The problem with that concept this season is that the Reds rotation is overflowing at the moment. Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Mike Minor are all still part of the Cincinnati starting rotation. Hunter Greene is really starting to come into his own, and fellow rookie Nick Lodolo will likely earn his spot back once he returns from the IL.

The Reds also have Connor Overton playing at a very high level. The journeyman hurler got his first major league win last week and owns an ERA of just 1.59 in three starts this season. And don't forget about Justin Dunn who's currently recovering from a shoulder injury.

The Redlegs have already shifted former starting pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez to the bullpen. Gutierrez struggled mightily so far in 2022, but perhaps this move to the bullpen will help the right-hander reestablish himself.

If the Cincinnati Reds are interested in fast-tracking Graham Ashcraft to the majors, allowing him to work out of the bullpen may be the best way to do it. Otherwise, we'll likely have to wait until closer to the trade deadline when pitchers like Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, and Mike Minor may be dealt elsewhere.

Next. Ranking the Reds top catching prospects in 2022. dark