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Pirates Prospect Watch: Braxton Ashcraft Has His Best Start of the Season

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Braxton Ashcraft hadn’t gotten off to the best start this season. In his first two appearances of the year, the right-hander allowed six runs in five innings of work. He worked out of the bullpen during one of those games. On Saturday, Ashcraft got the start for Altoona, putting up his best performance of the year.

Ashcraft threw 4.1 innings against Bowie, allowing one run on four hits. He didn’t issue a walk, and struck out three. Altoona lost 6-2, after giving up four runs in the ninth inning. Ashcraft left the game at 1-1.

The Pirates had Ashcraft in MLB Spring Training this year, where he displayed an MLB quality fastball and slider combo. His fastball works mid-to-upper 90s, and the slider is a plus offering. Ashcraft is now in his first full season back from Tommy John, and it could take some time for him to get into his groove. He’ll get that chance this season in Altoona, with a likely opportunity to move up to Indianapolis if he pitches more like he did on Saturday.

PIRATES PROSPECT WATCH

INDIANAPOLIS lost 12-4, with three of their runs scored in the bottom of the ninth.

  • LHP Michael Plassmeyer gave up two unearned runs in four innings during his latest start. Plassmeyer allowed five hits, one walk, and struck out five.
  • C Carter Bins picked up his fifth double of the season, going 1-for-4 with two RBI.
  • 2B Liover Peguero went 1-for-2 with a walk and an RBI.
  • 1B Jake Lamb went 1-for-3 with a walk and a double.
  • RHP J.C. Flowers pitched a scoreless inning with one strikeout.

ALTOONA lost 6-2, allowing four runs in the bottom of the ninth in the game started by Braxton Ashcraft.

  • RF Tres Gonzales picked up three hits, including his second double of the year.
  • C Abrahan Gutierrez also had three hits and a double, while knocking in both of Altoona’s runs.
  • 1B Seth Beer joined the three hit club, going 3-for-3 with a walk on the day.
  • 3B Kervin Pichardo went 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base.
  • RHP Eddy Yean pitched two perfect innings, striking out three.

GREENSBORO won 8-0 at home, getting out to an early 3-0 lead in the first, and adding two more runs in the second.

  • RHP Wilber Dotel has been a sleeper to watch early this season. He pitched five shutout innings in his latest start, allowing two hits, one walk, and striking out two. Dotel now has 10.1 shutout innings in three starts, with eight strikeouts.
  • 3B-2B Charles McAdoo went 2-for-4 with his first home run of the season, putting two runs on the board in the first inning.
  • C Geovanny Planchart hit his first homer of the season in the second, adding two more runs to the lead. He had two hits and three RBI on the day.
  • RF Rodolfo Nolasco also hit his first home run of the season, going 1-for-4 with a solo shot in the fifth.
  • LHP Luis Peralta pitched a scoreless inning, striking out two. Peralta now has 15 strikeouts in 6.1 shutout innings across four appearances.

BRADENTON lost 4-3.

  • LHP Michael Kennedy pitched five innings, allowing one run on two hits, with no walks and eight strikeouts. Kennedy has made three starts this season, with a 16:3 K/BB ratio in 12 innings.
  • CF Shalin Polanco went 1-for-4 with two RBI, hitting his third double of the season. The double traveled 101.6 MPH, and added a run in the bottom of the ninth.
  • SS Jesus Castillo went 1-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts. He picked up his eighth stolen base and his second caught stealing, giving him an 80% success rate this season on ten attempts. He also had a throwing error, his second error of the season, completing his eventful day.
  • 1B Omar Alfonzo went 1-for-2 with two walks. His single traveled 104.7 MPH, which was the hardest hit ball of the game.
  • LF Esmerlyn Valdez went 1-for-2 with two walks and a 95 MPH single.

STATCAST HEROES

The double from Carter Bins traveled 107.8 MPH, going 350 feet. The catcher has shown consistent hard-hit power, with a good amount of extra base hits. STATS

Michael Kennedy picked up 10 whiffs on 20 swings with his fastball. The pitch sits 89.5 MPH with movement, topping out at 91.8 on Saturday. He also threw his slider for strikes, getting six called strikes on the pitch and throwing it in the zone 78% of the time.  STATS

SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE

  • LHP Eric Lauer makes his next start for Indianapolis at 1:35 PM EST.
  • LHP Anthony Solometo pitches on a Sunday for his third start in a row with Altoona. The game starts at 1:05 PM.
  • RHP Alessandro Ercolani takes the mound for Greensboro at 2:00 PM. I wrote about Ercolani this past week.
  • Bradenton sends RHP Khristian Curtis to the mound at noon.
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Tim Williams
Tim Williams
Tim is the owner, producer, editor, and lead writer of PiratesProspects.com. He has been running Pirates Prospects since 2009, becoming the first new media reporter and outlet covering the Pirates at the MLB level in 2011 and 2012. His work can also be found in Baseball America, where he has been a contributor since 2014 and the Pirates' correspondent since 2019.

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