Phillies prospect Cody Asche shines in Arizona Fall League
PEORIA, Ariz. - There is a sense of urgency, but, at the same time, patience is evident.
While the Phillies deal with the revolving-door issue at third base, Cody Asche (ASH-ee) waits in the wings. There's a temptation to move Asche and other prospects through the organization quickly and address critical needs. Yet the Phillies brass realizes players such as Asche are not ready for the major leagues at this point and must bide their time.
Though the organization remains cautious, Asche, at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, may not be far from claiming Citizens Bank Park as his summer residence. While the 22-year-old native of the St. Louis suburb of O'Fallon has reached double-A Reading, there is evidence that points to a bright future.
For starters, the Phillies like his mental makeup. That was a principal reason Asche was selected to play in the important Arizona Fall League and named to the West team in the league's All-Star Game last Saturday.
"When we signed him [in 2011], he basically failed but then came through with flying colors," said Dusty Wathan, Asche's manager at Reading and with Peoria in the Arizona Fall League. "He has a great deal of confidence in his ability, and we liked the way he bounced back and succeeded from adversity."
The reference is to Asche's first professional season.
Drafted by the Phillies in the fourth round (151st overall) of the 2011 draft out of the University of Nebraska, Asche was assigned to Williamsport. He hit just .192 in 68 games, and Wathan points to a specific reason.
Asche played third base in college, but the Phillies moved him to second at Williamsport. They found out that was a mistake when he struggled. And when he returned to third, his production dramatically increased.
Starting the 2012 season at single-A Clearwater, Asche hit .349 in 62 games and was promoted to Reading. With the Reading Phillies, he hit .300 and nearly doubled his RBI production (25 at Clearwater, 47 at Reading) in almost the same number of games.
Asche is a lefthanded hitter, and his ability to reach the gap remains the best of his offensive weapons. Wathan predicted that Asche could hit 35 to 40 doubles and 20 to 30 home runs a season at the major-league level.
The player maintains a realistic approach.
"I'll let the organization makes those decisions," Asche said after a recent Arizona Fall League game. "As a player, that's out of my control. The organization knows what it's doing and places guys in a position where they can best succeed."
While playing for the Peoria Javelinas this fall, Asche said the Phillies have emphasized defense. He is working to improve his footwork around the bag and recognize angles to reach the ball faster and make his throws accurate. His hitting, however, draws the most attention.
At Reading, Asche picked up 33 extra-base hits in 263 at-bats, and he had 10 extra-base hits and 10 RBIs in his first 67 at-bats for Peoria.
Playing time is somewhat limited and usually dictated by the player's organization in the fall league. In Asche's case, the Phillies requested that he play four games a week, and Peoria, along with the league's five other teams, plays every day except Sunday.
Wathan said the next move for the Phillies is to discuss each prospect and figure out what is best for both Asche and the club. That will not happen until the eve of spring training, but Asche does not appear to be in a hurry.
"There are reasons why they send you to a certain team," he said. "For me, it's just a matter of playing here every day, learning, improving, and getting better."
The rest, he noted, is out of his control.