With the 125th pick in the fourth round of the 2018 MLB Draft, the Milwaukee Brewers selected LHP Aaron Ashby

 

What you need to know:

 

Position:

  • Pitcher

Bats/Throws:

  • Left/Left

Height and Weight:

  • 6’1”, 165 lbs

 

Overview:

Ashby, 20, is the nephew of former big league pitcher Andy Ashby. While his nephew Aaron is a lefty, Andy was a right hander that spent 14 seasons in the majors, pitching for the Phillies, Rockies, Padres, Braves, and Dodgers. Ashby compiled a career record of 98-110, with an ERA of 4.12. He was an All-Star as a member of the Padres in the 1998 and 1999 seasons. Andy and Aaron have taken near-identical career paths so far. Both attended Park Hills High School in Kansas City, and they also both pitched two years a Crowder College, a community college in Neosho, Missouri. This year at Crowder, Ashby established himself as a top arm in the community college levels. He put up video game numbers his sophomore year, with an 11-2 record, a 2.29 ERA, and one save over 74 ⅔ innings. Ashby recorded 156 strikeouts which equates to a K per 9 of nearly 19. Ashby also recorded three no-hitters in a stretch of four games, and ended the year with a 17-strikeout, one run performance over 8 innings of work against Mineral Area CC.  MLB.com ranked Ashby as the 112th ranked prospect, and one of the top JUCO prospects. Ashby was taken in the 25th round last year by the Rangers, but he opted to stay for his final year at Crowder. Aaron has a commitment to Tennessee, but recent interviews suggest he will likely sign with the Brewers.

 

Strengths:

  • Many scouting reports agree that Ashby possesses one of the top curveballs among lefties in the class. MLB Pipeline gives the pitch a grade of 60, and it has a sharp 12-6 break that generates many swings and misses. Ashby uses the pitch as his “out getter” and many of his 156 strikeouts this year were from his curveball. His curve touches around 71-74 mph.
  • Ashby’s bloodline could suggest that major league success is in the future for him. Having an uncle that has given you a model for your baseball career can do nothing but help you, and baseball is obviously in his blood.
  • The 6’1” lefty already has a four pitch arsenal. While older scouting reports describe Ashby as a two-pitch arm, he has added a slider and changeup to his repertoire. All three are effective, with his fastball being his second best pitch as it received a 55 grade from MLB Pipeline. He uses a two-seam and four-seam, with both capable of reaching around 95 mph. He did not use his changeup to a high degree at Crowder, as his curveball was all he needed for an off-speed pitch to get outs at the community college level. His changeup still received a respectable grade of 50. While MLB Pipeline did not give out a grade for his slider, scouts say that it looks a lot like his curveball in terms of breakage, but the pitch touches the lower 80’s. As long as his slider and changeup keep developing, Ashby will already have a diverse group of pitches to attack hitters with.
  • Ashby has experience in closing games, and a potential change to a relief role in the majors could help hide his control issues (more on that next).

Weaknesses:

  • Many reports, including Baseball America, list Ashby’s unorthodox delivery as his main weakness. The delivery is rather slow and winding, and his hand motion at the beginning does appear unorthodox. Because of this, his delivery is inconsistent which causes control issues. His 43 walks were the 19th most in the NJCAA, according to NJCAA.org. Subsequently, MLB Pipeline gave his control a 45 grade. This problem will only get worse, as the improved plate discipline of professional hitters will likely cause an increase of walks.
  • Ashby will have to adjust to the competition level in the minors early on. While all high school prospects face the same problem as Ashby, he has never pitched on the major college level. Instead of facing community college batters, he will have to face professional hitters which will potentially be a steep adjustment.

 

Future:

As mentioned, Ashby may not even sign with the Brewers and could hold up his commitment to Tennessee, but it appears Ashby wants to sign. Ashby has already bypassed the majors one time, but that was when he was taken in the 25th round. The projected pay for Ashby is in the mid 400,000 dollar range, compared to a rate that would be around the 100,000 dollar range if he were to sign last year with the Rangers. As for his projected debut date, Ashby will need time to continue to develop his arsenal and adjust to competition, as well as filling out a lanky 165 lb frame. If Ashby were to sign, he would almost certainly be assigned to Rookie ball, and from there would slowly make his rise through the minors. At the earliest, we’re looking at a 2021 September call-up type deal, and a serious major league stint starting around 2022. Left handed pitchers are always at a premium, especially one with the talent level of Ashby. The Brewers will likely make a serious trade or two this year and even more in the years to come, which could clear the way for Ashby to rise towards the top of the farm rankings. If all goes well and Ashby can continue to improve his slider and changeup, we are looking at an effective lefty strikeout pitcher in the future, either out of the pen or rotation.

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