4. LHP Aaron Ashby
Next up on our list is the Milwaukee Brewers reigning Minor League Pitcher of the Year winner. Last year, Aaron Ashby put up some big numbers in Low-A Wisconsin and High-A Carolina. In 61 innings at Low-A, Ashby posted a 3.54 ERA over 11 games. He gave up just four homers, struck out 80, and posted a 1.23 WHIP.
Ashby earned a mid-season promotion to High-A, and didn’t miss a beat. In 13 starts for the Mudcats, Ashby had a 3.46 ERA over 65 innings, giving up just one home run and striking out 55.
In 2018, Ashby had a 3.59 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP, and 66 strikeouts over 57.2 IP across Rookie-ball and Low-A. In 2019, his final line was a 3.50 ERA, a 1.28 WHIP, and 135 strikeouts over 126 innings.
Drafted in the 4th round in 2018 out of Crowder JC in Missouri, Ashby was the first pitcher and first college player of that draft class. Still just 21 years old entering the 2020 season, Ashby is likely to start the year back in High-A, but could very quickly see a promotion to Double-A.
Ashby gets a ton of swings and misses, and it centers around his big curveball, a plus-plus pitch that is the best in his arsenal. His curveball helps his fastball play up, considering he’s not known as a power pitcher. He now sits in the low-mid 90s with his fastball, occasionally touching 96 MPH. Ashby succeeds mostly with deception.
Ashby has a funky and unconventional delivery, but it deceives hitters and makes them late on his pitches. It’s the same kind of strategy fellow left-hander Brent Suter has used to success in the big leagues, although Ashby has a higher velocity and a better curveball.
Let’s not overlook Ashby’s changeup, either. It’s also an above-average pitch, which gives Ashby three solid, above-average big league pitches to work with. That’s a great starter’s arsenal.
The one issue that Ashby will need to improve is his control around the strike zone. He walks too many hitters, with a 4.28 BB/9 last season. Once he figures out his control, he’s a big league starting pitcher., perhaps in the middle of a rotation.
All things are trending up in a very short amount of time for Ashby. Last year, he just barely made the top 10 on our list, and this year, he jumps all the way up into the top 5, coming in at No. 4.