2016 RHP Graham Ashcraft Talks MSU Commitment

Huntsville (AL) High School class of 2016 pitcher/third baseman Graham Ashcraft, one of the most highly recruited pitchers in the south, talks about his commitment to Mississippi State.

  • Name: Graham Ashcraft
  • Classification: 2016
  • Position: RHP
  • Ht: Wt: 6-foot-2, 208
  • Bats-Throws: L-R
  • High School: Huntsville (AL) High School
  • Schools of Interest: Committed to Mississippi State

    When did you commit?
    "I committed when I went on a visit last Sunday. Mississippi State has always been my number one school to go to because I have always loved their baseball program. And I have always heard great things about (Mississippi State pitching coach) Butch Thompson.

    "When I went and visited the campus and walked through the facilities it just felt like home. Everything felt right when I was there."

    What was the process leading up to you committing?
    "They didn't talk offer until it was over. Going through the campus, before they even said anything about an offer, I just fell in love with it and told myself this is the place that I want to go."

    When did you receive your offer?
    "We went into Coach Mingione's office. We talked and when he was through that is when they offered me."

    What did it feel like being offered by your number one school?
    "It just felt great, like a dream come true."

    What exactly did you say when you were offered? Did you commit on the spot?
    "Honestly, I was in shock. I didn't know what to say. My dad was with me on the visit. And we were going on visits to LSU and Auburn next week. So, we told them we were going to wait and get back to them the next Monday. That is when we would be through with the visits and I would have my decision made. We went out to the truck and before we even left the parking lot I told my dad this is where I want to go. Everything here makes me feel like I am back home. So, we went back inside and I went up to Coach Ming and told him this is where I want to go. We then shook hands and talked a little bit afterwards. And it was done."

    What was Coach Mingione's reaction? And how did his reaction make you feel?
    "He was pretty jacked up. It made me feel great. Your dream has come true. You are living your dream. It is something that nobody can take away from you."

    Getting back to the visit, did you get to visit with Coach Thompson while on the visit?
    "I did. I got to sit down with him and talk about an hour and a half to two hours. We talked about pitching and the pitch tracker, something that they have set up in their stadium."

    Did he tell you what he likes about you as a pitcher?
    "He said he likes that I have a power arm and good movement with my fastball."

    I read that you have topped out at 95 and 96 this summer and you have great movement on your fastball. Is your fastball a two-seam or four-seam?
    "I have what is called a heavy fastball. What they mean by that is it has a natural sink to it. I normally throw a normal four-seam but I have a two-seam that is basically the same pitch but it is in the upper-80s and it has a lot more bite down in the armside."

    What is your consistent velocity and what is your top velocity?
    "Depending on what kind of day that I am having, it could range from 88 to 92 to 91 to 93. My top velocities have been 95, 96."

    As a comparison, what was your velocity last summer?
    "I topped out at 94 but I sat around 88 to 90."

    When do you normally use your two-seam?
    "I use it when I want to get a groundball because it runs flat then sinks down around 4 to 5 o'clock. That is a good groundball pitch or swing and miss pitch on a lefty. On a righty I like to throw it in because when they swing at it it is normally a jam shot and they are on top of it."

    How does your four-seam compare to your two-seam?
    "It has the same type movement as my two-seam but it doesn't drop as much. It has a little bit of run. It has a little bit more velocity on it."

    What other pitches do you throw other than your two fastballs?
    "I also throw a changup, a slider and a curveball. I feel comfortable with all of them. I just started throwing a slider but then took it away going into my high school season last year because we didn't think I needed to throw it that much since I had the curveball and changeup. But then people started to tell me it would be good to throw it ever now and then because it is a good strikeout pitch."

    You mentioned teams that you were considering. Who were all the schools that you were considering?
    "I had narrowed it down to LSU, Auburn and Mississippi State because they have my major which is Forestry. I called those other two schools right after our meeting and told them that I wasn't coming down."

    Those were our final three. What other schools were recruiting you?
    "There was West Virginia, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana Tech, Alabama, Texas Tech and Troy."

    Is Mississippi State recruiting you just as a pitcher or will you also hit?
    "When we were there my dad asked that question. They told us that they are going to let me hit until I prove that I can't hit the upper level pitching."

    Which do you prefer doing, pitching or hitting?
    "Pitching is my favorite thing to do. It is what I have been doing since I could pitch in games. Hitting is what I am going to do until I can't do it any longer."

    Ashcraft, who plays third base as well as pitches, was selected to the Class 7A All-State team as well as the AL.com Super All-State baseball team, both as a third baseman. This past season he hit .331 with 16 home runs, the most in Alabama. As a pitcher, he had a 4-3 record with a 3.71 ERA. He pitched 49 innings, striking out 53 and walking 23.

    Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.

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