Making his first start in a new uniform, former Crowder and current Single-A Advanced Carolina Mudcats (Milwaukee) pitcher Aaron Ashby picked up more or less right where he left off in his last start with his previous team Wisconsin in the Midwest League.
Ashby struck out the first three Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox) batters he faced en route to eight strikeouts over seven innings.
Unfortunately for Ashby, he took a no-decision in his Carolina League debut, despite seven shutout innings for the 6-foot-2, 181-pound southpaw.
See, Carolina and Winston-Salem battled scoreless until the bottom of the ninth when the Mudcats came away with the victory on the game’s only run.
Ashby and Mudcat relievers Cody Beckman and Rodrigo Benoit combined on a two-hitter. Ashby gave up one hit.
“There were definitely some butterflies at first, but everything just settled down after that first strike,” Ashby told Rob Terranova of MiLB.com. “And then it’s basically just doing what you’ve been doing your whole life.
“I try to keep the same mindset whether we’re scoring five runs an inning or zero. So, yeah, every time I came back out of the dugout I was just thinking that I have to keep doing my job and keep putting up zeros.”
On the season, Ashby owns a 3-4 record with a 3.18 ERA and 88 strikeouts and 28 walks over 68 innings. Ashby left the Midwest League as its strikeouts leader with 80; entering the week, Ashby still stands in a tie for the league lead with Clinton LumberKings (Miami) hurler Chris Vallimont.
Ashby earned a Midwest League all-star before his promotion to the Carolina. In his last start with the Timber Rattlers, Ashby struck out a career-high 13 batters and that performance propelled Ashby into the Midwest League strikeouts leadership.
The Brewers selected Ashby in the fourth round (125th overall pick) of the 2018 MLB Draft and he’s recorded 154 strikeouts over his first 125 2/3 innings since making his pro debut last year.
Ashby — the nephew of former Crowder and former MLB pitcher Andy Ashby — is currently the No. 9 overall prospect in the Brewers organization.
— Relief pitchers’ ERAs are in a perpetually delicate state, because just one bad inning can balloon that ERA.
After his first 11 appearances this season, former Neosho High and former Crowder standout Trey Turner has so far avoided that bad inning in relief for the Single-A Hagerstown Suns.
Turner surrendered just one run (earned) and five hits over his first 13 innings.
He’s 1-0 with a 0.68 ERA and 24 strikeouts and four walks over precisely 13 1/3 innings. Turner struck out five twice, first against the Kannapolis Intimidators (Chicago White Sox) and then against the Delmarva Shorebirds (Baltimore).
Turner’s appearance Sunday marked his 25th overall professional outing and his career numbers are 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA and 48 strikeouts and 26 walks over 32 innings.
The Nationals selected Turner in the 10th round of the 2017 MLB Draft. He missed the 2017 season because of injury.
It has also been a standout season for former Crowder and current Delmarva pitcher Zach Matson.
Matson owns a 4-0 overall record with a 2.70 ERA, four saves in four opportunities, and 57 strikeouts and 18 walks over 33 1/3 innings in 16 appearances.
Opponents are hitting .162 against Matson this season — compared to .111 against Turner — and he remains the highest overall strikeouts number for a pitcher with no starts.
Matson became one of eight Shorebirds selected to play in the upcoming South Atlantic League all-star game — he earned his first midseason all-star.
Matson is not the first former Crowder player to be selected for the South Atlantic midseason classic. Sam Hilliard and Andrew Schwaab played in the 2016 game.
The Orioles made Matson a 24th round selection in the 2016 MLB Draft.
— Former Crowder and current Single-A Advanced Salem Red Sox (Boston) reliever Andrew Schwaab earned his 38th career professional save during a recent outing against the Frederick Keys (Baltimore).
Schwaab began the season in Double-A Portland — where current big leaguer Jalen Beeks, now pitching for Tampa Bay, once plied his trade — before a demotion May 20 to Salem.
The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Schwaab started the 2019 season strong, but struggled in his last couple outings with the Sea Dogs.
Since his demotion, Schwaab stands at 1-0 with a 3.09 ERA, one save in one opportunity, and 13 strikeouts and five walks over 11 2/3 innings.
On the season, Schwaab is 2-1 with a 4.55 ERA, two saves in three opportunities, and 35 strikeouts and 19 walks over 29 2/3 innings.
During his career with three different storied American League organizations (New York and Detroit before Boston), Schwaab has a 17-12 overall record with a 3.62 ERA, 38 saves in 48 opportunities, and 234 strikeouts and 97 walks over 216 1/3 innings.
The Yankees made Schwaab an undrafted free agent in 2015 and he pitched for one of professional sports’ most organizations until he was released on Aug. 11, 2018. Nearly a week later, Detroit signed the reliever to a minor league contact and Schwaab finished out the 2018 season pitching for the Double-A Erie Sea Wolves.
The Red Sox picked up Schwaab before the 2019 season.
Schwaab’s best season came in 2016 pitching for the Charleston RiverDogs in the South Atlantic: 4-1 with a 2.27 ERA, 20 saves in 26 opportunities, and 43 strikeouts over 39 2/3 innings in 35 appearances. Schwaab earned midseason honors that season, the first of back-to-back midseason all-star selections; he made the grade in the Florida State League with Tampa the next season.