Could Pirates' Braxton Ashcraft, now at Triple-A, be the next Jared Jones?

Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates
Baltimore Orioles v Pittsburgh Pirates / Christopher Pasatieri/GettyImages

Braxton Ashcraft, the Pirates’ No. 6 prospect according to, is now just one step away from the majors, and despite his history of injury, he seems poised to be the next solid young arm in Pittsburgh’s arsenal.

On Sunday, three days after striking out 12 batters with Double-A Altoona, Ashcraft earned a promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis, according to’s Alex Stumpf. The promotion seemed to be in the cards for the past few weeks, as noted by Rum Bunter’s Baron Dionis.

The right-hander’s final outing with the Curve was fairly representative of his strengths and weaknesses. He battled, completing seven innings despite allowing three runs in the first inning. He displayed excellent command and swing-and-miss stuff, leading Double-A with 22 whiffs. He still has room to grow, though, as evidenced by his pair of wild pitches and tendency to give up home runs, as he did to lead off the fourth inning.

Do Pirates have the next Jared Jones on their hands in Braxton Ashcraft?

In reviewing Ashcraft’s Double-A numbers this year, an encouraging comparison comes to light. In roughly the same amount of time at that level last season, Jared Jones put up similar, if not slightly worse, numbers as Ashcraft:

Ashcraft: 11 games, 53.2 innings, 3.69 ERA, 10.57 K/9, 1.34 BB/9, 1.01 HR/9

Jones: 10 games, 44.1 innings, 2.23 ERA, 9.54 K/9, 3.25 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9

From a numbers perspective, Ashcraft has had better command, has pitched deeper into games, and has had more dominant stuff than Jones did in early 2023. Even the pair’s arsenal of pitches looks like a mirror; each relies primarily on a blazing fastball and a biting slider, with a curveball and changeup as tertiary pitches.

Ashcraft’s road through the minors after being drafted in the second round of the 2018 Draft has been more fraught than Jones’ journey. Ashcraft dislocated his non-throwing shoulder, leading to surgery in 2019, missed all of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and underwent Tommy John surgery in 2021, erasing his 2022 season. Since then, though, he has taken off.

Ashcraft impressed in spring training prior to the 2024 season, touching 98.5 mph with his fastball and holding opposing batters to a .143 average. Most encouraging, though, has been his ability to eat innings. After years of injury, Ashcraft already pitched more innings in 2024 than he has in any prior season.

Jones wrapped up last season with Indianapolis before earning a spot in the rotation in spring training. If the Pirates want Ashcraft to develop into a Jared Jones-type arm, they may play things conservatively at the Triple-A level with a few spot relief appearances in Pittsburgh later this summer. Regardless, Pittsburgh seems to have yet another exciting righty with whiff-generating stuff lurking just behind Jones and Skenes.