BRAXTON ASHCRAFT, RIGHT HANDED PITCHER
|Born: October 5, 1999
Height: 6′ 5″
Drafted: 2nd Round, 51st Overall, 2018
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Robinson HS
WTM’s PLAYER PROFILE
|Ashcraft is very athletic for a pitcher; he also played wide receiver, catching 37 touchdowns and 204 passes for over 2,090 yards his junior year. His stock rose in 2018, as he saw a velocity increase that led to him sitting at 89-93 MPH, touching as high as 95. The velocity wasn’t consistent, dropping down to the upper 80s later in his starts. He did see more velocity late in the season. His fastball has movement and sinking action, due to the high angle from his tall frame. He has enough projection that he could add velocity and maintain consistency as he fills out.
Ashcraft’s secondary stuff lags behind right now. He throws a slider that sits upper 70s and has good spin and angle, but could be more effective with more power. As is often the case with prep pitchers, he doesn’t have much of a changeup, but has a feel for the pitch. MLB Pipeline gives him the upside of a mid-rotation starter with two plus pitches and plus control, but that depends on him adding strength. Baseball America said he could be a steal in this draft due to his athleticism and upside on the mound. He’ll be an interesting project for the Pirates. He had a commitment to Baylor but signed two and a half weeks after the draft. He got $1.825M, well above the slot amount of $1,382,400.
The Pirates activated Ashcraft in time to make five GCL starts, working his way up to five innings in his last start. He pitched better than his ERA indicates.
The Pirates normally send prep pitching draftees to Bristol for their first full seasons, but they sent Ashcraft and Michael Burrows to West Virginia, a reflection of their regard for the two. Ashcraft didn’t have an easy time, although he did better than the ERA implies. Opponents had a 239/319/390 line against him, which except for the slugging was close to league average. His xFIP of 4.22 was great, but it was a lot better than the ERA. Things seemed to go south with runners on base: opponents had a .527 OPS against him with nobody on, but battered him to the tune of .934 with runners on base. He also had trouble with left-handed hitters, as they had an .847 OPS against him, compared to .614 by right-handed hitters. Ashcraft may have been impacted by an injury to his non-throwing shoulder.
Ashcraft was in fall instructionals and his left shoulder appeared to be healthy. According to Ashcraft himself, it was the first time in a long time since he’d been fully healthy.
The Pirates moved Ashcraft up to Greensboro and he pitched very well through his first four starts. After that, he started struggling. After ten starts total, he went on the injured list and ultimately had Tommy John surgery. Even with the poor ERA for the season, Ashcraft’s other numbers were still good, except he gave up eight home runs, better than one every five innings. He gave up more on the road than at home, so it wasn’t the Greensboro ballpark.
The surgery kept Ashcraft out all year.
Hopefully, Ashcraft will be ready to go in spring 2023.
|2023: Minor league contract
|Signing Bonus: $1,825,000
MiLB Debut: 2018
MiLB FA Eligible: 2024
MLB FA Eligible:
Rule 5 Eligible: 2022
Added to 40-Man:
Options Remaining: 3
MLB Service Time: 0.000
|June 4, 2018: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 2nd round, 51st overall pick; signed on June 22.|