Former Park Hill pitching standout Aaron Ashby will undoubtedly hear his name called again in the upcoming Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Ashby, who just finished his sophomore year at Crowder College in Neosho, Mo., is expected to go high in the MLB Draft that starts Monday, June 4.
According to the MLB.com Top 200 prospects, he is ranked No. 112, while Baseball America tabs him at 105 overall.
Either of those spots would place Ashby — a Tennessee signee — in the third-to-fourth round range.
The left-hander went 11-2 with 1 save and a 2.29 ERA for the Roughriders. He gave up 26 runs — 19 earned — in 74 2/3 innings with 156 strikeouts. He broke the previous school record of 114 in a season.
His strikeout total and his 18.8 K/9 innings is tops among all junior college players.
“He could be as high as second or third round,” Crowder coach Travis Lallemand said. “I think every club has seen him. We’ve had a ton of crosscheckers and three scouting directors watched him too. He has a lot of attention.
“Watching his development was a lot of fun. He got a lot better. He didn’t come in the guy he is now touching 95 (miles per hour).”
The Texas Rangers drafted Ashby last year in the 25th round but he decided to return to college. By rule, he couldn’t have been drafted again this year by Texas unless he signs an authoritzation, which he did earlier this season.
Ashby recently held a private workout with the Kansas City Royals and was flying to Tampa Bay Tuesday morning for a workout with the Rays.
His MLB.com scouting profile says, “Ashby’s money pitch is a plus curveball that he can manipulate into a harder, shorter slider at times. He opened his sophomore season throwing in the upper 80s but ended the year working at 91-94 mph while reaching double-digit strikeouts in his last five starts, including 17 in his final outing. He also has a changeup that he doesn’t use very often. Ashby is athletic but has a funky delivery that hampers his ability to throw strikes. Some scouts worry that most of his swings and misses come out of the zone, either on curveballs down or fastballs up, and wonder how his stuff will play against more advanced hitters. He’ll play next season at Tennessee if he doesn’t turn pro.”
Ashby will look to become the latest draft pick out of Crowder, which currently has four players in the minors. He is also following in the footsteps of his uncle, Andy, who went from Park Hill to Crowder College.
The elder Ashby signed as an undrafted free agent with the Phillies, where he made his debut in 1991. Andy Ashby was later part of the first Colorado Rockies team and then made the All-Star Game in 1998 and 1999 with San Diego, part of a 14-year big league career.