The Cincinnati Reds Triple-A affiliate, the Louisville Bats, opened their season on Tuesday night at Louisville Slugger Field. The Bats fell 3-2 to the St. Paul Saints, but will dust themselves off and head back out to the field again tonight.
Ben Lively drew the start for Game 1 and Connor Overton will be on the bump for Game 2 on Wednesday night. But one of the most intriguing pitchers to follow this season will be hard-throwing right-hander Graham Ashcraft.
According to the Bats' website, Ashcraft is part of Louisville's active roster. Ashcraft split time last season between High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga. The flamethrower went 11-4 in 22 starts and posted a 3.00 ERA. Ashcraft covered 111 innings last season and punched out 129 batters.
Reds prospect Graham Ashcraft will make his 2022 debut for the Bats.
Graham Ashcraft is the most likely prospect to debut for the Cincinnati Reds later this season. Hunter Greene has already made the Opening Day roster, and barring some sort of surprise, we're likely to see Nick Lodolo make his MLB debut next Wednesday at Great American Ball Park.
The Louisville Bats and their manager Pat Kelly have a good track record of developing starting pitchers. Besides Greene and Lodolo, both of whom played for Louisville last season, Vladimir Gutierrez, Tony Santillan, Riley O'Brien, and Reiver Sanmartin all suited up for the Derby City's minor league squad last season.
In addition to Lively and Overton, Ashcraft will likely be part of a five-man rotation with last year's starter Riley O'Brien and former big leaguer Pedro Payano. Payano started 24 games last season and has 22 innings-worth of major league experience under his belt.
The Louisville Bats will also be supplying plenty of relievers for the big league club this season. Alexis Diaz, Ryan Hendrix, Dauri Moreta, and Daniel Duarte all made the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster, but there's a good chance those four relievers will spend some time driving up and down I-71.