Cody Asche Making A Strong Case for the Starting 3B Job in 2014

The beginning of Cody Asche‘s Major League career could have been better. He had just one hit — a single — in his first 17 trips to the plate, including his debut on July 30. Since then, however, he has been as tough an out as they come, posting a .914 OPS in 95 plate appearances entering yesterday afternoon’s series finale against the Braves. Since August 6, Asche has hit .318 with 11 of his 28 hits going for extra bases.

Overall, he has a .340 weighted on-base average (wOBA). If he had enough plate appearances to qualify on the leaderboard, he would be sandwiched between Ryan Zimmerman (.350) and Manny Machado (.334). He has done this with a normal .301 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and a .190 isolated power (ISO). Though the comparison is otherwise unfounded, it is interesting that those numbers are very similar to those of Chase Utley (.352 wOBA, .294 BABIP, .200 ISO).

As important as Asche’s offense has been his defense. We are nowhere near a sample size large enough to use stats in analyzing his defense, but at least from watching on an everyday basis, he looks like a seasoned Major League veteran at the hot corner, making almost all of the routine plays along with a Web Gem every week.

Last year, the Phillies went into the off-season looking at a weak free agent market for third basemen and no realistic internal options. The Phillies opted to trade for Michael Young, which did not pan out. Considering the way Asche has played in a month-plus, the Phillies don’t have to worry about third base at all this off-season. Even better is that Maikel Franco will get a chance to prove himself at the Triple-A level over an entire season. Had Asche not been an option, the Phillies may have gone with another stopgap solution, and that could have motivated the Phillies to rush Franco along faster than necessary.

GM Ruben Amaro will have some interesting decisions to make between the end of October and when pitchers and catchers report in February. The easiest decision, though, is writing Asche’s name in pen at third base. Will Asche be this good going forward? It’s hard to say, but the 23-year-old has certainly earned the chance to prove himself from day one in 2014.

Leave a Reply

*

35 comments

  1. LTG

    September 09, 2013 08:10 AM

    Hear, hear. On his defense, I still would like to see better lateral coverage. But it looks to me like he has gotten better at this as he has settled into MLB. So, perhaps his lateral coverage will improve as he learns better how to position himself.

  2. nik

    September 09, 2013 08:59 AM

    I hope they dont start yo-yoing Asche between third and left in anticipation of Franco.

  3. Paul

    September 09, 2013 09:00 AM

    If you look at the free agent crop of third basemen, I don’t see how they can go with anybody but Asche.

  4. Jon Cheddar

    September 09, 2013 09:10 AM

    It will be interesting to see what they do once Franco arrives in the bigs. Does Asche go out to the outfield? Does Franco move over to first (unlikely unless they can cut bait on Howard)?

  5. Bill Baer

    September 09, 2013 09:15 AM

    I started to say they could use him as trade bait, but I don’t think they would realistically get anything that would be more useful than having him cost controlled for six years.

  6. Larry

    September 09, 2013 09:34 AM

    I wonder if either Franco or Asche could play shortstop? 2014 could be Jimmy Rollins last year as a Phillie. I saw that Asche has played 2nd base when he 1st started in the minors. I wouldn’t be surprised if he could play the shortstop position. This would make our infield younger and more cost controlled. There’s always a chance Galvis could be an everyday infielder with his glove, but I’d like to see him hit with more consistency.

  7. Pencilfish

    September 09, 2013 09:43 AM

    Jon,

    So much can happen with Franco in 2014, good or bad, so talk of trading Asche is too premature.

    If you want to see indications of what the Phillies are thinking, did you know Franco played 1B at Reading in the last games? This is more likely insurance, since Howard must still show he’s healthy and capable of contributing. It seems the Phillies are taking sensible precautions in case Howard cannot contribute.

  8. LTG

    September 09, 2013 09:51 AM

    Scouts universally say Asche can’t play SS. And if he couldn’t stick at 2B, how could he have the range to stick at 3B?

    Unfortunately, scouts also seem to agree that Franco can’t play a corner OF. Maybe 1B where he goes but will his bat be good enough for him to be a first division starter at 1B?

  9. SJHaack

    September 09, 2013 10:13 AM

    @Larry

    Franco would be a miracle to stick at 3B as it is. His projected spot on the diamond long term in the majors is LF/1B. He’s not moving up the defensive spectrum, you just have to hope he doesn’t move too far down.

    @LTG

    2B and 3B have different considerations. If Asche has the arm and the accuracy to be at 3B he might be able to stick there, where a guy with better lateral movement but a worse arm might not.

  10. Mark66

    September 09, 2013 10:54 AM

    Asche gives Philly fans hope for the future

  11. LTG

    September 09, 2013 11:16 AM

    Whoops. I meant SS not 3B. Of course a 2B can move to 3B if he has the arm.

  12. Scott G

    September 09, 2013 11:38 AM

    What is Wheeler’s obsession with saying players flip the ball to first as opposed to throw it. I’m not sure he knows what flip means. It’s pretty hard to “flip” a ball as fast as Asche threw that ball.

  13. Larry

    September 09, 2013 12:04 PM

    @LTG,

    “Scouts universally say Asche can’t play SS. And if he couldn’t stick at 2B, how could he have the range to stick at 3B?”

    Can we trust what scouts say about Asche? They didn’t think he could play 3rd base at the Major League level. Here is the scouting report from Baseball America when he was drafted:

    “Asche’s best tool is his lefthanded power, which rates a 55 or 60 on the 20-80 scouting scale. He has good hand-eye coordination and a sound approach, so he should hit for a solid average as well. Six-foot-2 and 198 pounds, Asche is a decent runner once he gets going. He also has average arm strength, but lacks soft hands and quick feet, so he’ll probably have to move off third base in pro ball. He’s athletic enough to try the outfield, and some scouts wonder if his tools might translate well behind the plate.”

  14. Matt

    September 09, 2013 12:55 PM

    Weren’t there suggestions at one point to see if Franco could catch? If Asche can stick at 3rd, that really gives you the perfect opportunity to experiment with Franco back there. Bring Chooch back on a 2 year deal, have Franco catch in AAA next year, Chooch can start in the Majors. If it works out, maybe see if Franco can come up the next year and phase him in?

  15. T. Martin

    September 09, 2013 01:01 PM

    @ Larry

    2014 has to be Rollins last year as a Phillie. As much as I appreciate his contributions during the golden era of the franchise his self-serving, me first air of entitlement and demeanor are holding the team back.

    Yes he leads the team with 28 doubles and he’s second in hits, but he’s third in runs scored (Utley has 12 more in over 100 fewer ABs, and Mayberry is only 7 behind in about 200 fewer ABs. And Mayberry stinks.)

    Galvis has four 3Bs to Rollins two in 1/3 of the ABs.

    He’s first in ABs by a wide margin and ninth in HRs. Sixth in RBIs. Behind the aforementioned JMJ. And 7th in OWAR.

    Thanks for the memories. (1st in franchise history in doubles, 2nd in ABs, GPs, XBHs, TBs, and SBs but with zero chance to move into 1st in any of those categories) He needs 83 hits to become the all time franchise leader in that category but then what? Auction him off at next year’s trade deadline right after the ceremony to acknowledge his achievement?

    It’s REALLY time for him to go.

  16. Stupid is as Stupid Does

    September 09, 2013 01:10 PM

    I’d much rather see he Phils transition Franco to 1B.

    A. If his bat continues to develop where he is 30-40 homer guy and RH returns and shows some ability to play, RH becomes a tradable piece.

    B. Whether we are paying 25 mil for RH at 1B or 22.5mil for Franco to play where we eat 90% RH’s contract so we receive something in return, I see this as better option than Franco at 3b, Asche at 2B and Utley at 1B

    C. A 3B with no range is worth less than a 1B with 3B fielding/Arm/range

    D. Ruf will never be a gold glove Outfielder but he’ll be better than Franco in LF. If Ruf isn’t in LF and Brown in RF next year, the Phils need their head examined.

    E. Converting Franco to Catcher is a no go. I hope his bat is in Philly in 2014, at worst, 2015. That would delay him by years. Plus, we have some decent prospects at Catcher, name me another at 1B as good as Franco.

  17. Larry

    September 09, 2013 01:38 PM

    @ T. Martin,

    “2014 has to be Rollins last year as a Phillie. As much as I appreciate his contributions during the golden era of the franchise his self-serving, me first air of entitlement and demeanor are holding the team back.”

    I agree with you as so many Phillies fans feel this way. Believe it or not there are some people on this site that don’t believe Rollins is a selfish player. I’ve had some debates with them about this subject, but they don’t see what we see. At this point in JRoll’s career, stats are his # 1 priority.

  18. Smitty

    September 09, 2013 02:01 PM

    What is most amusing – even in a small sample – is that the minor league attributions of the Phillies which is among the worst in baseball – actually developed a seemingly “good” major leaguer. And then, his progress invites arguments as to where to play another of the marginalized minor league players. Is this what happens in Tampa ? in St Louis ? Where are all the naysayers now ? Amusing….PJ Crawford, Quinn, where will these players play ?

  19. LTG

    September 09, 2013 02:02 PM

    Larry,

    There’s a big difference between not seeing some development that let’s him stick at 3B, and not seeing the ability to play SS. So far, no one has thought Asche could play SS, not even anyone in the Phillies farm system. Players generally start at the top of the defensive spectrum and move down. Asche couldn’t stay at 2B because he couldn’t cover the territory so he moved down to 3B. How could he suddenly be able to skip all the way up to SS?

    Also, the scouts weren’t entirely wrong. Asche has shown good hands and an ability to charge in his short time in MLB. But he hasn’t shown impressive lateral range. He’s much better than M Young, but, well, that’s not saying much.

    An infield with Franco and Asche covering the left side would be an unmitigated defensive catastrophe.

  20. Larry

    September 09, 2013 03:47 PM

    LTG,

    “defensive catastrophe”

    That’s been the description of the Phillies all year. I would like Galvis at shortstop. He’s the best defensive player on the roster right now.

    As far as the scouts go, they are wrong a lot of the time. They said Ruf can only play at 1st base. they said Ruf’s HRs last year in the minors wouldn’t transfer to the majors. After 9 HRs in just 1 month (August), they are eating crow right now. It’s not easy predicting the future and how players learn positions from coaches. Some intangibles can’t be scouted.

    I’m not sure yet if Ryne Sanberg is a good manager yet. He was a great infielder. Maybe he is helping the young guys play their positions better.

  21. JD

    September 09, 2013 04:38 PM

    @ Larry – Rollins is a ten and five man. He can veto any trade at next years deadline.

  22. philly-76

    September 10, 2013 10:42 AM

    I think the main thing that everyone needs to have is “patience.” We don’t even know what we have yet in Ruf, Ache, Franco, and Sandberg due to the small sample. From what we’ve seen it is great. I think it can be easy to “put the cart before the horse” so to speak. But I do think that the production thus far hasx been great and if it holds up, then the future is brighter.

  23. joecatz

    September 10, 2013 12:00 PM

    on SS,

    if someone can name ANY PLAYER, in the past 20 years or so that has moved TO SS at any time past their first year in the minor leagues I’d like to know who that person is. it doesn’t happen.

    since 2005, 71 players that were drafted as SS have made it to the major leagues.

    just 15 of those players have played a single game at SS at the major league level.

    to put that into perspective, there are between 60-80 players drafted as SS each season, so thats about 560 total players drafted at SS since 2005, and 15 manned the position at the major league level.

    so literally 2% of the players that could PLAY SS at lower levels have the combination of skills to make it in the big leagues.

  24. Larry

    September 10, 2013 12:54 PM

    @JD,

    Yes, he has the no trade clause, but this can be fixed. If Jroll doesn’t produce again in 2014, he should be benched. Jroll would demand a trade at that point.

  25. Mark66

    September 10, 2013 06:26 PM

    Why is Bernadina still getting playing time, he CAN’T HIT. Plain and simple. He will hit under .100 if they continue to play him. He must be related to someone in the front office. I fail to understand the logic in him playing. He is a sure out no matter where you bat him.

  26. joecatz

    September 11, 2013 09:51 AM

    I would say for his defense, but in 16 games Bernadina has been worth -0.3 dWAR per BBR.

  27. Pencilfish

    September 11, 2013 10:04 AM

    Rollins 2015 $11M option vests if gets: a) 600 PA in 2014, or b) 1100 PA in 2013-2014 and is not on the DL at the end of 2014. Otherwise there’s a mutual option (Phillies can pick him up for $8M, and if not Rollins can pick himself up for $5M).

    Since Rollins will accumulate ~600 PA in 2013, he only needs ~500 PA in 2014 and a little luck (ie, no DL). If not, way, he can come back in 2015 for $5M. That’s a pretty expensive bench player, if he loses his starting job.

  28. Phillie697

    September 11, 2013 10:33 AM

    Bill,

    Remember the craziness about Chase Headley only a couple of years ago? I’m not so sure if the Phillies put Asche on the market, say, next season, that they won’t get more value than what we can get out of his cost-controlled years. He keeps this up he’s going to land us a top-25 prospect.

  29. joecatz

    September 11, 2013 03:38 PM

    Aside from Franco waiting in the wings if Asche keeps this up why would you trade him for a top 25 prospect if you could get one? he’s got more fWAR that Moustakas and Middlebrooks in 33 games. his wOBA and wRC+ are higher than Machado, and if you took his current lines and extrapolated them over a full season it looks like Ryan Zimmerman with a better glove.

    he’s a 3-4 fWAR 3B at this pace.

    Greg Dobbs in 2008
    David Bell in 2004

    those are the only two Phillies 3B since Scott Rolen to put up a season with a wOBA over .325 and a wRC+ over 100 in the same season with at least 250 PA.

  30. Larry

    September 11, 2013 07:48 PM

    Maybe you can trade Asche for a top 25 prospect and pray he will be the next Asche lol……The Phillies have said they are going to have Asche gain some some muscle weight for 2014 as they think he can hit more HRs. I’m not totally sold on him yet, but I like what I see so far. He is definitely an upgrade to Michael Young. I really want to see what he does in 2014 with 10 lbs of muscle. I like his upside.

  31. Pencilfish

    September 11, 2013 10:16 PM

    Phillie697,

    If we trade Asche, who covers 3B? Franco will start at AAA next spring. It would be a huge leap of faith to take a 21-yr-old who never played above AA (not a full season either) and insert him into the starting line-up. Franco must prove he can rake in AAA. Then, we can talk about what to do.

  32. Phillie697

    September 11, 2013 11:00 PM

    @joecatz,

    Because we HAVE Franco? I’m merely answering Bill’s assessment of what we should do with Asche if and when Franco proves to be a better 3B prospect than Asche. Now if Franco fails, of course we keep Asche.

    It is merely my assessment that there may be a bigger trade market for Asche if 1) he keeps this up, and 2) we decide to trade him because of Franco.

  33. Phillie697

    September 11, 2013 11:01 PM

    “if the Phillies put Asche on the market, say, next season, that they won’t get more value than what we can get out of his cost-controlled years. He keeps this up he’s going to land us a top-25 prospect.”

    Notice the “if” part at the beginning.

  34. Joecatz

    September 12, 2013 07:54 AM

    No man I’m not questioning the logic behind trading Asche or Franco eventually should both of them end up being studs. What I’m questioning is why you would move a 24-25 year old controllable 3B putting up 3 WAR for a prospect? At that point he’s worth MORE than a minor leaguer. He becomes the type of player that you package a deal WITH prospects for, in a Justin upton like deal.

    If Asche is for real and a year from now, at 24 is putting up the kind of numbers he has consistently for the past month to trade him for a top prospect is selling low.

    Do a search on fangraphs of 3B under 26 by wRC+

    Carpenter
    Donaldson
    Longoria
    Seager
    Sandoval
    Alvarez
    Iglesias
    ASCHE

    That’s not a guy who, making less than $1,000,000 a year you move for a prospect.

  35. rum balls

    September 13, 2013 09:21 AM

    franco can platoon with howard at first since franco is a righty, and since howard is dreadful against lefties.

    franco’s only options really are 3b and 1b.

Next ArticleKilling Two Birds with One Stone