When will Reds prospect Graham Ashcraft make his MLB debut?

Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Graham Ashcraft follows through on a delivery.
Cincinnati Reds non-roster invitee pitcher Graham Ashcraft follows through on a delivery. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

A lot of the scuttlebutt in Goodyear this spring revolves around top pitching prospects Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo possibly making their major league debuts this season. Greene and Lodolo, both former first-round picks, appear primed to open the 2022 season on the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster.

But one of the team's most overlooked prospects, Graham Ashcraft, has made an impression this spring as well. Ashcraft was selected in the sixth-round of the 2019 MLB Draft and was a non-roster invitee to spring training this year.

It's been said that Ashcraft is in the mix to snag one of the spots in the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation, but having not played above Double-A will certainly hurt the Alabama native's chances to make the cut. So when should Reds fans expect Graham Ashcraft to make this major league debut?

When will Reds RHP Graham Ashcraft make his MLB debut?

The first question to be asked when talking about Cincinnati Reds pitching prospect Graham Ashcraft is whether or not he's a starter or a reliever. We've seen this before with former pitchers Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson, and Amir Garrett. The Reds made an attempt to develop these talented hurlers as starters, only to see them transition into relievers.

I think Ashcraft will fall into the same category. There are several scouts who believe that Ashcraft does not possess the stamina to be a consistent starting pitcher. However, the Reds owe it to themselves to at least give it try, especially after how dominant he was at both High-A Dayton and Double-A Chattanooga last season.

The alternative is that Cincinnati fast-tracks Ashcraft to the big leagues this season where he becomes a relief pitcher with a power repertoire of an upper-90s fastball and wicked breaking ball. While the bullpen may be ultimately where the 24-year-old ends up, there's no need to rush Ashcraft to the major leagues.

Cincinnati's starting rotation is good enough without adding Graham Ashcraft to the mix. Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle, for now, are slotted atop the Reds rotation. The recently acquired Mike Minor is likely in the Queen City for just the 2022 season. Add to that Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Reiver Sanmartin, and the Reds have an above-average rotation heading into the season.

I wouldn't be shocked, if Ashcraft has success in the minors, to see the right-hander debut later this season. If the Reds make some deals around the trade deadline that involve some of their starting pitchers, there's no reason to think that Ashcraft wouldn't be the next man up.

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Graham Ashcraft should be, at the very least, be a September call-up this season. If Ashcraft misses as many bats at Triple-A as he did during his 2021 campaign at Dayton and Chattanooga, he might make this big league debut even sooner.