Pittsburgh Pirates: Three Potential Breakout Prospects for 2021

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Pittsburgh Pirates
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Pitcher Braxton Ashcraft

The 2018 draft was an interesting one for the Pittsburgh Pirates. With the 10th overall pick in the draft the team got outfielder Travis Swaggerty, who many people had pegged as a potential top-5 pick before the draft.

Part of what makes that draft so interesting is that due to a lack of a minor league season in 2020 it is tough gauge where the players selected are at in their development. One of these intriguing players is pitcher Braxton Ashcraft.

The Pittsburgh Pirates selected Ashcraft with the 51st overall pick in the 2018 draft. FanGraphs ranks Ashcraft as the organization’s 28th best prospect. They give his slider a FV of 50, curveball 45 and change up 40. His fastball, however, has a FV of just 35.

Due to his pitch make up Ashcraft’s future will likely be in the bullpen. If he can not improve his fastball and change up, odds are, he will eventually move into a reliever role. This is in spite of all 16 of his professional outings being as a starting pitcher.

Ashcraft Is now 21-years-old, and will likely start the 2021 season with either Low-A Bradenton or High-A Greensboro. If he finds success, he could pitch his way to Double-A Altoona. However, it is more likely that he will spend the entire of 2021 at the Single-A level.

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All of that said, with a strong 2021 season Ashcraft could really improve his prospect status. Especially if he is able to improve his fastball and change up, solidifying his future as a starting pitcher. Even without doing that, Ashcraft can still be a very good MLB reliever down the road.