While the Cincinnati Reds faithful may be lamenting the outlook for the 2022 season, and rightly so, the future of the starting rotation looks very bright. With most of the attention focused on the two former first-round picks (Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo), don’t sleep Graham Ashcraft.
Ashcraft made his spring training debut in Monday’s Cactus League game against the Chicago Cubs. The right-hander actually went three innings and his fastball was in the upper 90s. Ashcraft even hit 100 MPH on the radar gun as he pitched to his first hitter, Nick Madrigal.
Graham Ashcraft started Monday and struck out two batters while allowing just one run in three innings of work. While it’s highly doubtful the Alabama native will break camp with the major league club, if Ashcraft continues to throw the ball as well as he did on Monday, he won’t be around for very long. minors.
Ashcraft had some control issues in the second inning, as he hit two of Chicago’s right-handed hitters. But, the 24-year-old was able to pull himself together and came out of the inning relatively unscathed after charging the bases with no outs. Ashcraft allowed one point for crossing the plate at a defensive player’s choice.
Ashcraft did a great job keeping the ball on the ground. The right-hander would have enjoyed a 1-2-3 inning in the first if Mike Moustakas had lined up a ground ball cleanly to the left side of the infield. Instead, Ashcraft just hit fourth inning batter Patrick Wisdom with a backdoor breaking ball.
Round two offered more of the same. The first batter hit a ground fly in the middle, and the Cubs’ next two batters boarded after being hit by the pitch. Ashcraft then knocked out former Reds outfield prospect Narciso Crook before inducing back-to-back ground outs to end the inning.
The third inning saw two Cubs hitters pass the ball over the heads of Reds infielders, but fly balls from Willson Contreras and Patrick Wisdom ended up harmlessly in the mitts of Shogo Akiyama and Tyler Naquin , respectively. Ashcraft also convinced Jason Heyward to short.
We’ll likely see Graham Ashcraft start the 2022 season at Louisville’s Triple-A, but he won’t be there very long if he continues to dominate opposing hitters like he did on Monday. Expect Ashcraft’s tenure with the Louisville Bats to be over by the All-Star break, if not sooner.