2013 Phillies Report Card: Cody Asche
Cody Asche was drafted by the Phillies during the twilight of their 21st century boom years, 151st overall in the 2011 draft. He didn’t make a terrible amount of noise, but progressed through the system quickly, stopping at both Clearwater and Reading in 2012, performing ably at each.
In an ESPN chat in August of 2012, Keith Law was unimpressed by Asche, criticizing a swing that he suspected would not generate any substantial power, and questioning his glove work at third. Our own Eric Longenhagen, a few months later, pegged him as a below average regular (something of a calling card for Phillies third basemen since Scott Rolen), indicting his power as Law did but suggesting Asche’s contact skill could be formidable. Baseball America ranked him the 7th best prospect in the Phillies’ system following the 2012 season, but enough has been written here about that system for you to draw your own conclusions about that rank’s meaningfulness.
Mostly, Asche was eclipsed by fellow third baseman Maikel Franco, who has generally been regarded as a more robust prospect. So the former’s call-up on July 30th was mildly surprising, and welcomed for the implication that Michael Young might be sent diving futilely elsewhere, though he was not dealt until a month later. At the time, the Phillies were mired in an eight game losing streak that had erased whatever tiny glimmer of hope there might have been for their contention. Victories from that point forward were long term and forward-thinking. A prospect debuting impressively would have fit the bill.
But Asche struggled to start. In his first 8 games with the big club, Asche posted a .408 OPS with 4 strikeouts, generally looking a bit overmatched. Then, on August 8th, with his team facing the equally woeful Cubs on a windy day at Citizens’ Bank Park, Asche went 3 for 5 with a double and his first Major League home run, 10 or so rows deep into the right field seats:
From that point on Asche hit .248/.314/.418 — not an optimal performance, but something to build on for the 23 year old. Most gratifying, perhaps, was his .154 ISO, and that 37% of his hits went for extra bases, a rate slightly above the league average. If Asche can sustain more power than was generally predicted for him, it bodes well for his everyday serviceability at third.
Defensively, Asche displayed better instincts and softer hands than might have been expected giving the scouting reports. He ranged very competently to his left, and made his share of tricky bare-handed plays and quick charges. Admittedly, much remains to be seen about how he handles himself at the position, and it’s very possible that our palate for third base defense was poisoned by 120 or so games of Michael Young paroxysms. But Asche, at the very least, was by no means a liability in the field.
Prior to the start of the season, Keith Law remarked that, like Michael Young, Cody Asche was likely a stopgap at his position. That may be true, if Maikel Franco continues to develop at (probably) Lehigh Valley next season. But Asche, who won’t turn 24 until next June, may yet have some developing left to do as well. It was only 50 games, and it didn’t knock anyone out of their chair, but his 2013 debut was a solid foundation for growth. 2014 is still impossible to reasonably predict for the Phillies, but it may be the case that watching Cody Asche try to move forward as a Major League talent will be one of a precious few entertaining elements. Here’s hoping. B-.