18.8 K/9. 156 strikeouts in 74.2 innings. 3 no-hitters.
That’s part of Aaron Ashby’s line for his sophomore season at Crowder College in Neosho, Missouri. Ashby was drafted last year after his freshman season by the Texas Rangers in the 25th round. According to Crowder College Travis Lallemond, every MLB team has sent a scout to see him pitch this year. Ashby has given the Rangers permission to draft him again. Rumors are out there that he could go as early as the 2nd round although he will probably go later than that. Ashby is also committed to Tennessee out of the SEC.
Ashby’s fastball has been rumored up to 95 but he primarily works in the low-90s. Most of the year he worked 88-91 but has recently been working 91-94. Ashby’s curveball is one of the top curves in this draft. People that have seen it say it could be the best LHP curve in this draft and is better than Tim Cate’s from UConn. Ashby also throws a slider occasionally although it is not as good as the curve, it has a sharper break and offers a fourth pitch. Ashby also throws a solid changeup but doesn’t use it very much and will have to continue to develop the pitch.
Ashby has worked 10 starts this season in which he had double digit Ks. Ashby started just 13 games this spring. In the three games he didn’t reach double digits, his K totals were 9, 8, and 9. I saw Ashby throw a few times last year and very early this season, but it sounds like he is a different pitcher now than the kid I saw. Ashby needs to clean up his delivery slightly and it was described as “funky” by Baseball America recently.
Ashby also has a KC connection. Ashby graduated from Park Hill HS in KC. I’m sure he has attended a game or two at the K in his lifetime. And let’s not forget that he is nephew of Andy Ashby, who pitched in the big leagues for 14 years and also pitched at PHHS and went to Crowder.
Taking Ashby would follow a recent trend of the Royals taking LHP JuCo arms early following last year’s selections of Evan Steele (73) and Daniel Tillo (90). The pick value at 58 this season is $1,168,300. The Royals could probably sign Ashby to a slightly lower bonus around $750,000 saving some $400,000 to allot elsewhere. That is just a guess on my part.
“Who knows, (he) might be the next big thing out of Crowder,” Lallemand said. “We’re happy we got him.” That quote was from a Joplin Globe article on January 16, 2016.
If selected, Ashby would probably go to Burlington and throw in 3.0 inning stints the rest of 2018. I would guess he would go to extended spring before being assigned to Lexington in 2019. From there I think he would be in Wilmington to start 2020 and be in NWA by the end of the season. I could see an Arizona Fall league showing at some point here as well. He would probably be in Omaha by late-2021 and looking at a possible call up in late 2022.
With Ashby working with a lower velo earlier in the season it could benefit the Royals. Ashby could end up dropping slightly allowing the Royals to take him later than they might if he was working with his velo in the range it is now. If I was KC, I wouldn’t let him go past 58 overall because I’m sure he won’t be available at 94 where the Royals select again.