July 7, 2022

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Reds' newest ace is 'just out there having fun'

2 min read
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This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon’s Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

With a 100-mph cutter, a hard sinker and a very effective slider, rookie right-hander Graham Ashcraft has impressed quickly during his short tenure in the big leagues.

Ranked as Cincinnati’s No. 7 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Ashcraft is 3-0 with a 1.14 ERA in four starts — including a 14-8 win over the D-backs on Tuesday, when he fired six scoreless innings with four strikeouts, no walks and three hits allowed.

“I don’t think he realizes how good he is. He’s just out there having fun,” Reds shortstop Kyle Farmer said after Ashcraft threw seven innings of one-run ball in Thursday’s 8-1 win over the Nationals.

On Monday, at his Reds clubhouse locker, I spoke with Ashcraft about one of his pitches and quick rise to the big leagues.

MLB.com: How did you develop your cutter to work so well?
Ashcraft: It’s a four-seam fastball that just happens to cut. It’s just the natural release slot with my hand. That’s how it’s making it move. It just naturally happened, really, after my hip surgeries. I used to throw it and it had a lot of run on it. Now, it’s just the cutter.

When did you have those surgeries?
I had two hip surgeries in college, my freshman year in 2017, halfway through the season [at Mississippi State]. I had another the following year in ’18 before the season started. I had an extra bone growth on both my femurs.

When you were younger, did you have someone who you patterned yourself after or looked up to?
My Dad, Chuck Ashcraft, played college ball. I always listened to what he was having me do. He coached me all the way until I was like 15.

Last year, you split the season between High-A and Double-A. You were in Triple-A for a month this year. Maybe not to you, but this seemed to have happened quickly. What’s that been like?
It was my goal at the beginning of last year. My goal last year was to be here, but there were still some things to work on and I understood that. Coming into this year, I just tried to attack those plans they wanted me to do and just get after it.

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