2016 Phillies Report Card: Cody Asche

Cody Asche, as most Phillies’ fans are aware, was the team’s 4th round pick in the 2011 draft, and one of the team’s top prospects in the nascent stages of the organization’s rebuilding effort. Asche rose quickly through the Minor Leagues, succeeding at several levels and emerging as the team’s everyday third baseman in 2013, only two full seasons removed from his professional debut.

He assumed everyday duties again in 2014, but was forced to adapt to left field following the Major League emergence of Maikel Franco in 2015. His Minor League success just hasn’t translated to the Major Leagues, where his offense consistently sat 10 percent worse than league average from 2013-2015. His defense (both at third base and left field) has been seen as below average as well, but regardless, he entered 2016 firmly in the team’s outfield mix.

Unfortunately for Asche, his season began with an inauspicious start – an oblique injury in Spring Training delayed his debut until early June. Once in the Majors, Asche was unable to get going with any consistency and produced a 72 wRC+ from June 2 through August 9. Days after the final game of that stretch, Peter Bourjos returned from the disabled list and Asche was optioned back to Lehigh Valley. Much to his credit, he took the demotion in stride, and in an exceedingly professional manner.

He returned to triple-A for 23 games, and hit exceptionally well (.302/.381/.512). Asche was among the first wave of September call ups, joining Phil Klein, Luis Garcia, and Joely Rodriguez in Philadelphia. However, he received almost no playing time (26 plate appearances) for the remainder of the year, and there was no sign of dramatic improvement during that time.

His total production in 2016 (70 wRC+, continued negative defensive evaluations) is certainly a disappointment, and probably won’t last another full season in the Majors at that level. Asche is arbitration-eligible in 2017, and while his cost won’t be prohibitive, the team may strongly consider other options in the outfield.

In the outfield, Odubel Herrera, Howie Kendrick, and Aaron Altherr are the players I’d consider locks on the active roster (with the latter potentially in a bench role).  The team needs five Major League-ready outfielders, and while there is a decent chance Roman Quinn secures one of the two remaining spots, there is still room for someone else on the bench. If Asche is tendered a contract, his 2017 role will then be determined by a Spring Training battle with several players (likely headlined by top prospect Nick Williams). The Phillies may very well move on from Asche this offseason, at which point he may sign a Minor League deal with another team in need of outfield depth.

Cody Asche’s 2016 season was a disappointment anyway you slice it, and certainly not at a level that is sustainable in the Majors. So far, he’s been unable to continue the approach at the plate that lead to Minor League success. If the team isn’t confident he can make a significant change from his struggles in 2016, he may spend 2017 competing for playing time in a different MLB organization.

Grade: D- 

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12 comments

  1. Romus

    November 29, 2016 09:53 AM

    And to think, in spring training of 2014, I thought he would be the clone of ‘Chase Utley’.
    Boy , talk about being off the mark!

    • Bob S

      November 29, 2016 03:03 PM

      Romus, I felt exactly the same.
      To his credit, I have not heard him complain about his situation, nor blame anyone else for his lack of production. So I guess some of Utley did rub off on him.

      • Steve

        November 30, 2016 10:14 AM

        In fairness, he is a good, if not very good MiLB hitter. I think many of us thought that success would translate to the majors.
        To put things in perspective, after 2012 we all knew the farm system was bad. Asche and Ruf found success quickly, and gave us hope. Both turned out to be AAAA players, leading to some disappointment, but ultimately confirming what we all knew….. the Phillies farm system was very bad during that time period. Hopefully our current top prospects will outperform the previous group from 5-6 years ago.

  2. Edwin

    November 29, 2016 05:19 PM

    Hey everyone loves the guy. He sounds like a great person who unfortunately had a brick glove and no consistency with the bat. They should cut the chord which I suppose they will do eventually. Baseball is a tough and so is life.

    • chico

      November 29, 2016 06:59 PM

      cut the chode

  3. Scott B

    November 29, 2016 05:23 PM

    Maybe he can catch on as a Greg Dobbs-lite role. I recall they were trying him out a bit at 1B in ST last year before he got injured. If he can backup the corner IF positions and occasionally LF can find some value in that. He’s got some pop in the bat so there’s that.

    • Romus

      November 29, 2016 06:37 PM

      ScottB…actually he is ahead of the Gregg Dobbs curve, if you want to comp them together at their respective age and level of experience..
      And I agree with you…..he may be what the Phillies want to transform him into.

  4. Andrew R.

    November 29, 2016 05:47 PM

    I think we are all ready to move on from Cody Asche at this point.

  5. Mainerob

    November 29, 2016 08:06 PM

    I hate to do this, Spencer, because it’s about content, which is rich, but the past tense of lead is not lead, it’s led.

    • john legath

      November 30, 2016 10:57 AM

      Never had a real chance to mature at. third
      Philadelphia should do him a favor by trading him. Let’s see if Franco’s the deal

  6. Major Malfunction

    December 01, 2016 01:40 PM

    If you are brought up to the show under the auspice that you are a future starter at 3B and then you are moved to a couple different positions while also being bounce between AAA/MLB, the writing is on the wall.

    Again, great work ethic and seems like a true professional. But if in 4 years you have amounted to a -1.4 WAR, you know what you have there. Even paying him the league minimum, you are getting less than minimum value. DFA please!

    • Major Malfunction

      December 03, 2016 04:21 PM

      Great minds think alike. He was DFA on Friday.

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