Pittsburgh Pirates: Six Overlooked Pitching Prospects

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
6 of 6
Pittsburgh Pirates
BRADENTON, FLORIDA – MARCH 22: A detail of the 2021 MLB Grapefruit league logo during a spring training game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles on March 22, 2021 at LECOM Park in Bradenton, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images) /

Braxton Ashcraft

The Pittsburgh Pirates drafted right-hander Braxton Ashcraft in 2018 with the 51st overall selection. Ashcraft was one of the better prospects going into the draft. MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 64th best player available.

Ashcraft showed some promise in 2021. He had a 5.35 ERA, 5.50 FIP, but some solid underlying numbers. He had a 1.22 WHIP and struck out batters at a healthy 25.6% rate. Plus he showed some solid control with a 7.6% walk rate. Ashcraft’s ground ball rate was only 40.2%, but he had a fantastic 16.7% line drive rate. Ashcraft’s biggest struggle was home runs. He surrendered 8 in only 38.2 innings, resulting in a 1.86 HR/9.

The former second-rounder throws around 91-94 MPH and doesn’t have much spin. He averaged around 2250 RPM. His four-seamer projects as just a 45-grade pitch. But his slider (55-projected) and curveball (50-projected) are considered solid offerings. His change-up isn’t all that great either, though he has solid command.

Next. Internal Rotation Options for 2022. dark

Ashcraft may not be some sort of high-end pitching prospect, but he does have some talent. The right-hander could be a solid back-of-the-rotation type starting pitcher, or a swing-man who could serve both roles. He needs to control the long ball, but if he can do that,