Asche, the 22-year-old 2011 grad from the University of Nebraska, is headed into his third season as a pro after batting a combined .324 at Single-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading in 2012. By all accounts, it doesn’t seem as if he has much time to go on his minor league career.
“He’s another guy whose bat is going to play,” Reading manager Dusty Wathan said. “He has a tremendous upside with his bat. To be at this level one year out of the draft is exceptional. The last guy who was at this level just one year after the draft was Pat Burrell and he was a first-round pick. Cody was a fourth-round pick and he wasn’t expected to be here. He was expected to maybe be at Clearwater at the end of this year.”
Indeed, Asche appears to
be on the fast track. In 68 games in Double-A, Asche hit .300 with 10 homers
and was named to the Eastern League All-Star team. That was after batting .349
with a .378 on-base percentage for Clearwater.
Clearly, Asche can hit, but it wasn’t always as easy as he thought it was going to be. After batting .327 with 12 homers in 54 games during his last year at Nebraska, Asche thought he’d jump in at Low-A Williamsport following his selection in the fourth round of the 2011 draft and just keep on hitting.
Boy was he wrong.
Instead he hit .197 in his first year of pro ball with 50 strikeouts in 64 games. He also was playing second base, because, as Wathan explained, the organization liked his bat so much that it was willing to take a chance on him anywhere in the field.
But after a few adjustments, a bunch of mechanical changes and a more refined mental approach, Asche could be knocking on the clubhouse door in South Philly sooner rather than later.
Wathan said that Asche
simply “hit himself out of [Clearwater].”
Now Asche has to get a firmer grip on playing third base.
“He skipped a level and only spent a half-year at the level he skipped. He’s done an outstanding job,” Wathan said. “But the one thing he has to work on is third base. It’s not really his fault. We had him at second base [in 2011], so we lost valuable time there in getting him some action there with him not playing third. I think we were just trying to get him some at-bats and it ended up being at second base.”
The decision to move Asche back to third base did not come about because it appears as if the Phillies will be seeking a new third baseman in the not-so distant future (though it didn’t hurt). Plus, with 36-year old veteran Michael Young in the final year of his contract, Asche’s bat is impressive enough that the Phillies’ brass wanted to find him a stable position.
In the meantime, Wathan added that he wouldn’t be surprised if Asche opens the 2013 season at Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
“Put it this way: if he starts the season at a higher level next year, he can handle it,” Wathan said. “If he comes back here, will it hurt his development? I don’t think so. I think we’re in a good spot with him. He got here so quickly — he’s not far from the big leagues. There’s not a lot more he has to do.”