Fightins

Asche Shines as Reading’s Other Star

In the midst of a playoff race, talented first-year pro Cody Asche is shining in the shadow of a dominating figure. If not for the scorching hot bat of first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf, the focus of fans and media members might be fully centered on the Phillies’ 4th round draft selection from last summer.

Asche, who typically bats second in the Double-A Reading Phillies’ lineup, credits his placement, batting in front of the man that folks have begun to call “Babe Ruf”, with providing him chances to see beneficial offerings from opposing hurlers.

“I think I have been getting good pitches to hit, with Ruf doing what he’s doing behind me. I’ve kind of taken the approach that all I need to do is get on base for him and really tried to simplify things at the plate,” Asche said.

Ruf, Reading’s big-time slugger, has been tremendous in recent weeks. In 21 August games, the 26-year-old Creighton University product has posted a .333 batting average with 14 home runs and 21 RBI.

Both Ruf and Asche have been key contributors for a Reading club that is in contention for a playoff spot in the Eastern League’s Eastern division. The team currently possesses a 68-62 record and sits five games behind first place Trenton (Yankees affiliate), tied for second place with New Britain (Twins affiliate).

Asked if the race for that second playoff spot (format has division champs playing their division’s second place teams in two series that each advance a winner to the championship round) is something the R-Phils are focusing on at this point, the 6-foot-1-inch 180-pound Asche quickly emphasized that the team’s focus is not simply on qualifying for the postseason, but the entire roster is still targeting a division title.

“We’re not racing for second. We got a chance to take the division,” Asche exclaimed. “But it’s all about taking things one game at a time. We’re fortunate to have our longest home stand of the year (an game stretch that begins on Thursday) to help with the playoff push.”

While the 22-year-old Asche is focused on making the playoffs, he also realizes there is a bigger picture that the Phillies organization cares about as well. The main goal across the board is, of course, individual player development. So, while a team is not likely to make the postseason with players that haven’t progressed or performed well, the organization wouldn’t care about a championship flag flying in Reading if it meant the players on that club, which the Phils have high expectations for, had not taken strides to improve.

“I’m just trying to finish strong,” Asche stated. “The last month is important, not only playoff wise, but for your year as a whole.”

Finishing strong is putting it mildly. Dating back to July 20th, the lefty hitting third baseman has gone 49-for-126 (.389 avg) with seven home runs and 30 RBI.

The Missouri native began his pro career last season as a member of the short-season Williamsport Crosscutters, posting a .192 average with 2 homers and 19 RBI in 68 games. Prior to joining Reading this year, Asche was named a Class A Advanced Florida State League All-Star as he tallied a .349 average with 2 home runs and 25 RBI in 62 games.

As he has moved up, a strong belief in his own skills has also seemed to play a role in Asche’s string of success. The fast rising prospect says he is minimally surprised with the type of production he has put forth in his first full season in the minors after playing college ball at the University of Nebraska. And whether it’s climbing the developmental ladder or striving to reach the postseason, Asche is ready for any challenge presented to him.

“I’ve always been confident in myself that no matter what’s thrown my way, I can handle it,” Asche said.

Here’s hoping Asche and his teammates continue to excel this year and beyond.
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Jay Floyd is PhilliesNation’s minor league insider.  You can read more from Jay by visiting his site, PhoulBallz.com.

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0 Comments

  1. TheDipsy

    August 23, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Jay – Can this guy field?

    I know what the publications say about our minor league system but, especially after the aquisitions we’ve made. I think we might be top half at this point. Your comments? And what to do with Ruf. He’s 26. He’s blocked. Can he play another position?

    The Dipsy

    • JMills

      August 23, 2012 at 8:57 am

      Asche is starting to get the attention of the national writers. Word is he is good enough at third to stay there. It is interesting that Asche played at second base last year and third in college. I believe we could see him in Philly by all star break 2013.

  2. Ryne Duren

    August 23, 2012 at 10:41 am

    it doesn’t matter dipsy. we won’t see ruf till he’s 30 and asche till he’s close to 30! they have from what i understand tried ruf in left field. can he be any worse than luzinski, burrel, ibanez? probably not! and if asche can field anything worth his salt, he’s already better offensively than what we have and he probably runs faster. cloyd is better than our 4,5 starters right now! yea it’s AAA i know but gees pettibone is doing great too at AAA. and cholly sits fransden and kratz! that’s 5 players they could ad right now and better the team. it’s not etched in stone that would happen but why not try? it’s almost like they don’t care at this point! to loyal to aging underacheiving ballplayers with no hunger anymore. i wasn’t a brown fan but the way he’s been playing has turned me around! he’s made some goofs but that comes with being young. he’s proving that he has worked on his game. give these other guys their chance! if rube can hear me. BRING UP THE OVERACHEIVERS AND DUMP THE UNDERACHEIVERS!

    • Chuck A.

      August 23, 2012 at 11:23 am

      I’m fairly certain Rube cannot hear you.

  3. BART SHART

    August 23, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I love hearing about our minor league hitting talent. But it kills me that we never get to see them when they are young. Ashe and Ruf may never make the majors as Phillies. Like every other mistake and sad event with the Phils, I blame Amaro, Jr. I do not think his head is into the minor leaguers and their development. Just my opinion and that and a dollar will buy a cup of coffee at Wawa.

    Except for Galvis. Dom Brown is not a youngster.

    • schmenkman

      August 23, 2012 at 11:56 am

      Let me fix that for you: “Ashe and Ruf may never make the majors.”

      Or they may. The odds are certainly far better for Asche than for Ruf, given their age and the positions they play.

      In 2005, Kevin Frandsen was 22 when the season started, and he hit .335 in the minors (.861 OPS), splitting the season between (mostly) A+, AA, and AAA. He had 636 plate appearances in the majors before this year and hit .243 with a .636 OPS. Should he have gotten more (and longer) chances to succeed in the majors since then? Maybe. But he’s now 30. He’s hitting better this year, but it’s only been in 85 PAs, and who knows if it will continue. Has he improved that much, or is this just a hot streak?

      • Ryne Duren

        August 23, 2012 at 2:15 pm

        you are so right schmenk! but we’ll never know unless they are played on a regular basis. sort of like the phrase rug head wheeler uses. they’re on a recon mission. the time is now to recon these guys to see what we got! that’s the basis of my points about the younger or even not so young players. but for some reason their not willing to do it. why ? i don’t know.

      • The Original Chuck P

        August 23, 2012 at 3:48 pm

        Frandsen is John Mayberry Jr. circa 2011… the hopes and dreams that we had for JMJ as a bona fide every day first baseman/left fielder were centered on a hot streak. Frandsen, like JMJ, is a nice player on a tear but I’m not sure if he is the guy that you hope he is, long-term. He’s more likely a flash in the pan (like JMJ’s .300 BA from 2011 was an aberration from his career .250 minor league batting average). We cannot go into the season thinking that Frandsen is going to repeat on this success… just like we should not have thought that JMJ was capable of repeating his 2011 campaign.

      • Psujoe

        August 23, 2012 at 11:41 pm

        The big difference between Frandsen and Mayberry is Frandsen has hit really well the last 2 seasons in AAA. I don’t remember JMJ putting back to back .300 seasons? I’d like to put Polanco and Wiggington on waivers to continue the rebuilding. Frandsen and Galvis would be decent if 5 and 6.

    • George

      August 23, 2012 at 12:44 pm

      Except for Galvis? What about the bullpen? What about Vance Worley?

      And Brown is still only 23 (granted, he’ll be 24 before long) and he was up for a time two years ago, and a longer time last season.

      I don’t fault you for having an opinion, but maybe you should review your facts.

      It’s quite possible these guys everyone is so keen on haven’t been up simply because they aren’t ready. Not everyone is a Trout or a Harper, and Baseball history is littered with players who were overmatched when called up too early.

      • schmenkman

        August 23, 2012 at 1:10 pm

        Brown is in his “age 24 season” as they say (his age as of June 30), and will turn 25 on Labor Day.

        But in any case the overall point stands.

  4. TheDipsy

    August 23, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I think Asche, at this point, has a better chance to play in the majors that not. He’s killing AA, which is not that big of a drop from AAA. What to do with Galvis, btw?

    The Dipsy

  5. Lefty

    August 23, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    It would be really great if Asche can continue to improve as he ascends. The baseball ref. fielding numbers are not superior, and I’ve never seen him charge, barehand and throw, but hopefully his development will continue to satisfy the powers that be. As usual, thanks for the update Jay.

  6. Keith

    August 23, 2012 at 2:04 pm

    Why are we as Phillies fans overvaluing our “prospects”? Keith Law has only one of our prospects in his top 100 – Trevor May – and has Jesse Biddle just outside of that. Freddy Galvis is crap – not to mention may or may not play another inning of baseball again. Kevin Frandsen and Eric Kratz have a completely unsustainable BABIP – they are nothing more than bench bats (which is definitely valuable), but to say that they are capable starters in the league? Cloyd is not better than our 4,5 – he may be better than Kendrick – but Worley, without being injured is an above average #4, while Cloyd is a fringe 5th starter. Ruf is 26 years old!! He’s hitting the cover off the ball because he’s been in some form of A ball for 3 years (which means he didn’t produce – and he’s much older than his competition, which makes a big difference when the competition you’re facing is between 19-21 years old).

    • Ryne Duren

      August 23, 2012 at 2:37 pm

      yo he’s 26 yrs old? i’m 62 i was playing ball into my forties. allthough i wasn’t talented enough to be anything. i was still pretty adept at playing. and when i was 26 the whole world was still in front of me why not an up and coming possible slugger like ruf? god howard was what 25 ish 26 is when he came up and he was ROY and MVP so who’s to say that 26 is old. doing what he’s doing tells me he’s ready! it’s the phils who are not ready! and i for one am not over valuing our minor leaguers. and yes fransden and kratz are bench players. my points on previous post were that they should try some of these guys. what’s so hard about that if they can’t cut it then get rid of them. they should do that with the guys that are on the team right now. some people overvalue the players on the roster right now. ( see rollins)

      • Keith

        August 23, 2012 at 2:54 pm

        As for Ruf – no 26 is not old in terms of life, but 26 is old in terms of playing ball in Double A. It’s know that when players repeat leagues, they get better. If a person doesn’t move up after a year in a league, it’s either because of injury or because they just didn’t cut it. Ruf repeated Single-A ball twice – which makes him old for Double-A ball, which means he’s still at least not reaching the majors until the beginning of 2014 – his age 28 season (if he was a better prospect than that, we wouldn’t have signed Howard to a 5 year $125 million deal). Howard didn’t come up until 26 for 2 reasons: 1) he was blocked by Jim Thome, 2)our previous GM didn’t understand that he should use top notch prospects – which is why Utley didn’t make his debut until late either.

        I completely agree that we need to give people a chance, but I don’t think putting guys that are fringe major leaguers at best out there. I wasn’t talking about you specifically over valuing our minor leaguers, but Phils in general. I just used some of the minors you talked about. The problem is that our system doesn’t really have anything of substance to it, just raw tools – and that’s all the way down in the lower classes and is harder to project.

        As for the major league roster – there are some overvalued pieces – Papelbon, Rollins, Pierre, Wiggington (although thankfully he isn’t starter anymore). But along with comments in these blogs, there’s “fans” calling in on radio stations talking about how Frandsen is the next Mike Schmidt, Kratz is the best catcher since Johnny Bench and how Pierre has somehow rediscovered his legs from 2003. I completely agree that a lot of fans over value our Major league roster also – but not only our fans, but Ruben Amaro.

  7. schmenkman

    August 23, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Barkann and Bottalico are complaining about the Phillies being 4 for 14 with RISP.

    That’s ludicrous — you can’t expect much more than a .286 average.

    Going into tonight they had the 4th higest average in the NL with RISP.

  8. Jay Floyd

    August 24, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    For those looking for more info on Asche (defense and otherwise), and for others hoping to learn more about the depth at 3rd base in the Phils organization, check out my latest podcast…it includes an interview w/ Maikel Franco.

    http://www.phoulballz.com/2012/08/phoulballz-minor-league-podcast-episode_24.html

    Also, Keith…keep in mind that Law reviews prospects that he can’t possibly see on a regular basis. In fact, I recall a piece he wrote in late 2010 about the BlueClaws, detailing their deep roster, mentioning Jonathan Villar over a month after he had been traded. He also wrote that article and it was published before he saw the BlueClaws play that year. That was one of the first times, upon meeting him at the SAL playoffs that year, when I realized how much national guys like him rely on other people’s reports. A national writer’s reviews of the Phils top minor leaguers don’t change the evidence that hot players are proving themselves worthy of attention or promotions.

    Also, things change. I didn’t have Asche in my top 25 rankings that came out in January this year, based on his stats with Williamsport last year. But now, having seen him play a bunch and witnessing the type of season he has put together, Asche is more than worthy and probably top ten in the system now.

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