While it’s true to say that the circumstances around this specific debut involved a bit of luck (Covid, a sore back), it’s also true that Graham Ashcraft has absolutely earned his call-up to the Cincinnati Reds.
Ashcraft entered his name into baseball history today when he started for the Reds against the Toronto Blue Jays. He pitched 4 1/3 innings, and allowed four hits, two earned runs, two walks, and struck out three (all three came in the second inning). He became the second former VBLer to make his debut this season, and, according to my list, the 248th all-time.
A big kid at 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, with a big fastball (his first pitch was clocked at 100 mph this afternoon), Ashcraft found himself pitching at Kate Collins Middle School in 2018, as he was in transition between Mississippi State and UAB. He pitched in six games, five of them starts, and went 0-1, 3.72 in 19 1/3 innings, with 14 walks and 21 K’s.
The Reds drafted him in the sixth round in 2019, and gave him $247,500 to sign. He had a fine pro debut in 2019, but really took off in 2021 at two different levels, going 11-4, 3.00 in 111 total innings, with only 37 walks against 129 strikeouts. He was 3-1, 1.65 in 32 2/3 innings so far in 2022 at Triple-A Louisville.
He’s expected to return to Triple-A soon, but he definitely acquitted himself well in his first game!