Phillies Nation Player Review: Cody Asche – Phillies Nation

Phillies Nation Player Review: Cody Asche

Cody Asche is the favorite to start at third base for the Phillies in 2014. (AP Photo)

Cody Asche is the favorite to start at third base for the Phillies in 2014. (AP Photo)

A miserable late September stretch tarnished what was otherwise an impressive major league debut for 23-year-old Cody Asche in 2013.  Asche, who manned the hot corner for the Phils in August and September, finished the season hitting .235/.302/.389 with five home runs and 22 RBIs in 162 at bats.  In the minors, Asche hit .295/.352/.485 with 15 bombs and 68 RBIs in 404 at bats at AAA Lehigh Valley.

His final numbers with the big club are somewhat in line with what many expected at the major league level from Asche, who was a nice prospect but not one widely expected to be an impact major leaguer.  However, they also don’t tell the entire story.  As of September 15, Asche was the owner of .271/.338/.457 slash line.  He had displayed a good glove at third and his short, quick swing from the left side of the plate had optimists making Chase Utley comparisons.

Asche then proceeded to close out the season on a 3 for 33 slide, dramatically dropping his numbers across the board.  So what was the reason behind his slump?  The answer to that question is critical in determining how big a role Asche will play in the future of this team.  Did major league pitching just catch up to him, causing a regression to the level many thought was his destiny?  Or was it simply fatigue that set in for a player who was playing college ball only two years ago?

Ryne Sandberg subscribed to the latter theory in September, anointing Asche as the favorite to start the 2014 season at third base for the Phillies.  Courtesy of Matt Gelb at the Inquirer, the Phillies’ skipper said:

“He’s proven defensively he can play third base.  And I think his bat has played.  He’s shown a good steady bat.  I think down the stretch it’s turned into a little bit of a long season for him possibly.  I understand that.  But the work ethic and the quality swing for a young guy like that is pretty good.”

Asche earned the nod from Sandberg with his 2013 performance, albeit only two months.  While the Utley comparisons are ridiculous – Chase is a once in a generation type of talent – Asche definitely has a good-looking swing and showed enough pop to suggest his bat might play at third in the cozy confines of Citizens Bank Park.  If you’re the type that trusts defensive metrics, you may have some concerns over Asche’s fielding ability (they’re not good).  But as Sandberg indicated, he looked competent over there and, at least for me, passed the eye test defensively.

Assuming the Phillies don’t add an impact third baseman in free agency or via trade, Asche will probably be the guy in 2014.  Maikel Franco is deservedly a heralded prospect now after a huge season in the minors, but he is only 21 and is the type of raw talent that could use more seasoning.  The free agent landscape at third looks pretty bleak, as usual, and the Phils can’t really afford to be trading away what little young talent they have for a significant upgrade – making a full season from Asche the most likely scenario.  As Gelb indicated, Asche would be the first homegrown player to start at third base for the Phillies on opening day since Scott Rolen in 2002.  If that happens, we should find out exactly what we have in the former Nebraska Cornhusker.

Grade: B+.  Asche was well on his way to an A before his dreadful end to the season.  While his statistics aren’t all that impressive in their final form, I still give him a B+ simply because I thought his future was either as a second division player or a bench guy on a good team.  But to me, he showed the potential for more in his two months.  Maybe his final 33 at bats are a red flag, maybe not… we will see.  Either way, he earned a longer look for me and it sounds like he is going to get it in 2014.

The bigger problem here is that, while Asche is a nice piece, he probably doesn’t have the talent to become the type of impact bat that the Phillies desperately need to contend again.  Such is life when you have star-level money tied up in players that are no longer stars.  Additionally, Asche’s presence in the lineup means six of the seven projected regulars will either be left-handed or only useful from the left side of the plate (I’m looking at you Jimmy).  That number assumes Darin Ruf is a starter and would drop to six of eight if the Phillies re-sign Carlos Ruiz or add a different right-handed hitting catcher.  Obviously, none of this is Asche’s fault… so for now let’s just hope that he emerges in 2014 as the guy that will permanently fill a position that has been a black hole for the Phillies for over a decade now.



  1. bigdaddy

    October 19, 2013 at 7:59 am

    B+ is too high for ASHE. I would give him a C+. A good fielder but has not shown enough power at the plate. The Phils have not had a power hitting 3rd baseman for a long time. CBPARK is built for a right-handed power hitter. Ruben should be looking to fill the void

    • Alex Lee

      October 19, 2013 at 10:56 am

      That’s fair, although my grade is largely based on my expectations for Asche… which I think were lower than most.

      • hk

        October 19, 2013 at 3:44 pm

        How low were your expectations for Asche that led you to consider a .235 / .302 / .389 line to be a very good result? I was hoping for something along the lines of .250 / .320 / .420 and was disappointed with his production, especially since his PA’s were so heavily weighted towards facing RHP’s.

      • Alex Lee

        October 20, 2013 at 11:16 am

        @hk Like I said in the post, I expected a future bench player. Many of you guys are right — the final slash line isn’t really deserving of a B+ — but he looks like he has a major league swing and I just saw some flashes in his two months that made me believe he might be a starter… which is good enough for me.

    • schmenkman

      October 19, 2013 at 11:47 am

      CBP doesn’t help RH power hitters. It does boost HRs by lefties, in general, although it hasn’t helped Howard, for example.

      • Matt

        October 20, 2013 at 7:00 pm

        How about Pedro Alvarez + Jeff Locke LHP for Asche *and* Franco? You’d add 35/40 HR to your lineup with Alvarez and Locke is controllable young pitching with some success (and some failure) at MLB level.

    • EricL

      October 20, 2013 at 4:32 pm

      Take a look around the National League and tell me just how many power hitting third basemen exist. (Hint: It’s not very many; in the NL it’s basically Wright, Alvarez and Zimmerman)

      Asche hit for more power (by ISO) than Sandoval, Headley, Freese, Chris Johnson, Mike Young, or Martin Prado. The problem wasn’t that he doesn’t hit for a ton of power, because few third basemen do anymore, but that he didn’t get on base enough (though I’m willing to give him some time to work on that).

  2. Ken Bland

    October 19, 2013 at 9:23 am

    I don’t see why Asche can’t develop into a low to mid 25 homer guy in his 3 or 4 peak years a few years out. I thought the part about was it fatigue or pitchers catching up warning was fair, but I’m assuming with his nice stroke, it’s more the former.

    He made at least a couple errors on routine plays you like to avoid, but it happens. Or maybe it’s better to say is acceptable as part of the development curve. His more challenging defensive plays showed me more about where he can get to. Seems to have good defensive instincts, which is refreshing to see in this day and age, and in comparison to some teammates. .

    I feel pretty comfortable about his 2014. Enough that I feel he could be a regular on a contending club, not a bench guy, or 2nd division player. But I wouldn’t discard that as a level of ability he’s left in the dust.

  3. Pamikedc

    October 19, 2013 at 10:49 am

    We won w Pedro Feliz at third. He always stepped up in the playoffs though, no? I remember him whacking one in game 4 of the 2009 WS.

    • schmenkman

      October 19, 2013 at 11:52 am

      You can win with a below average player at any position, if you have enough other good players.

  4. Jaron B

    October 19, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    I’d give Asche a B+/A-, a bit higher than Alex’s grade. Except for the 1-17 start & 3-33 finish, his bat was pretty good compared to other 3B in the last decade. He may not be a stellar fielder at 3B, but he can play 2B and perhaps learn some corner OF (reducing his toime at 3B some). I’ve compared him to Utley simply because Asche doesn’t specialize in one aspect of offense like Howard & J-Roll. Asche does a little of everything: excellent plate discipline, some speed, and good (but not great) defense – similar (but not at the same caliber) as Chase. Asche would, if successful, provide at least some stability to a position that has been very unstable for the last 10 years or so. And that would be a relief!

  5. Philly Fan

    October 19, 2013 at 2:22 pm

    I really liked watching Asche this season and hopefully he’ll be at third base for the Phillies for a lomg time. He seemed to fit in with the coaches, team mates and you’d think he was a veteran watching him. Seems like fatigue at the end of the season was the cause and that hamstring injury didn’t help.

  6. George

    October 19, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    The few times I( saw Asche I wasw not impressed with his bat. He has a nice, short swing, but seemed way too tentative in his approach. He needs to be a little quicker and a little more aggressive. His fielding is adequate, however, and could get better because he does have the “instincts.”

    All in all, I think he’ll make the grade for a while, but mostly because right now he’s the only guy they’ve got for 3rd base.

    I think B+ is too generous for a .235 hitter. Maybe baseball “experts” feel he’s not an impact player, but even non-impact guys should be better than .235 to warrant such a high grade.

  7. Bruce

    October 20, 2013 at 12:31 am

    I’m interrupting this thread momentarily to exclaim.. Shane Victorino once again, as in years past with the Phillies, came up with the biggest hit in the ALCS playoffs for the Red Sox (so far) in hitting a clutch 2-out GRANDSLAM HR in the 7th inning and helped his team come from behind tonight. I just knew when Victorino came to bat he was going to have his moment of glory in that big inning. That’s why the Red Sox got him because of his experience in the playoffs and of course, a vital part of the team during the season as well.

    Where are you going Victorino? “I’m going to the WORLD SERIES!”

  8. Pamikedc

    October 20, 2013 at 2:09 am

    Good for Shane. I met him 2xs and he is such a nice person.

    As far as Asche- the fatigue stuff is just an excuse or a “hope” that we are banking on that he can be our savior at 3rd.

    • hk

      October 20, 2013 at 7:12 am

      I agree on both points. Good for Shane. On Asche, it definitely sounds like more of an excuse and I’m okay with the manager protecting the rookie in that way even though I don’t buy it. In 2012, Asche played 154 games across 3 minor leagues and accumulated 658 PA’s. In 2013, he played 154 games in AAA and the big leagues and accumulated 625 PA’s. When trying to project his future, we have to recognize that 2 months is a small sample size and his his final 33 AB’s is in an even smaller one, but I wouldn’t let an excuse for that 3-for-33 finish impact my grade of his 2013 results. To me, a C- seems appropriate.

  9. bacardipr

    October 20, 2013 at 7:02 am

    I think the grade is about right. About what 3 more hits would of placed him at .250. His fielding does need a little work. I keep the feeling he’ll struggle a little at first theyll pull the plug in favor of Franco. Franco then will proceed to bomb out and Asche while not becoming a superstar would proceed to have a nice career somewhere else.

    • hk

      October 20, 2013 at 7:22 am

      “About what 3 more hits would of placed him at .250.”

      Sure, but 3 fewer hits would have placed him at .216. 3 hits in 162 AB’s is fairly significant. Adding 3 hits to Asche’s total in 162 AB’s would be like adding 11 hits to Rollins’s total in 600 AB’s. Give Rollins 11 more hits and his average would be .270, not .252, and Jimmy’s grade would be higher with a .270 / .336 / .366 line that it’s going to be with the .252 / .318 / .348 line that he actually produced.

      Having things gotten that bad around here and in the system that we’re willing to call .235 / .302 / .389 in (the small sample size of 179 PA’s) a very good result?

      • EricL

        October 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm

        Well…yeah, things have gotten that bad I guess. 7th worst record and 2nd worst run differential in baseball is really stinky.

  10. bacardipr

    October 20, 2013 at 7:04 am

    Keep having a feeling i meant.

  11. DavidE

    October 20, 2013 at 12:42 pm

    He is better than Young or Polanco at third base because he can play deeper if necessary. I think the Phillies would have been better off with him at 3rd base for the full year rather than Young. Slumps happen. I think he could be a productive player.

    • loupossehl

      October 20, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      The slump idea could be entirely vaiid, and shouldn’t be lightly considered. Asche had a more-than-acceptable slash line before going 3 for 33. And speaking of Shane Victorino, he had been 2 for 23 in the ALCS before his slam last night – but the Red Sox weren’t about to scramble for alternatives when Vic went to the plate, or any time before that. Of course, Victorino is a career pro with a history that of a seasoned and reliable vet. But all of this makes the point – that is, with any ball player, slumps happen and it’s part of the game … and with a young and unproven Asche, it’s just too early to tell.

    • schmenkman

      October 20, 2013 at 8:28 pm

      @DavidE, this says he’s better defensively than Young and Polanco.

      Regarding Young, you’re right — Asche was immediately a huge improvement. But if he’s ever anywhere near as good as Polanco I’ll be shocked.

  12. Pamikedc

    October 20, 2013 at 2:43 pm

    @Hk, thanks man.

  13. wbramh

    October 20, 2013 at 6:29 pm

    I think the emergence of Maikel Franco as a star is critical to this team’s future.
    I know Schmenk and others here will disagree with me but if he shows any potential in Spring training I’d add him the 40-man roster.

    I’m a great believer in natural talent rising to the level of the challenges they face and on a Phillies team likely to bring around 20 aging triple A-quality hacks, kicked around has-beens and never-weres north with them in April, Maikel Franco already stands out as a better bet – and there is your additional right-handed power hitter

    Where do you put him? At third with Asche given a look in left , platoon Ruf and Howard at 1st, move Dom Brown’s arm back to RF and let Revere and switch-hitter Hernandez battle it out CF.

    The Phils end up with more speed in the outfield and young right-handed power at both corners of the diamond. If Revere wins out, the switch-hitting Hernandez appears to be a competent and promising sub for various starters.

    Or trade Asche and Revere now along with Jesse Biddle to the Marlins as the core of a trade for you-know-who. In that case, Dom stays in LF while GS moves into RF. The Marlins would lose an oft-injured star but end up with two young regular starters and a young #4 or 5 pitcher. Yes, there may be quite a few teams who would consider offering more for Stanton but considering his fragility I’m not so sure they’d be quick to pull that trigger. The Phils have to gamble and better they do it on a young injured star than an old injured star.

    As much as I like Revere, he’s a more natural short fielder and this isn’t softball. I don’t believe Asche will ever rise beyond the level of a Rick Schu and I can’t understand the continued faith in Biddle. So I’m obviously hoping the Marlins think tank resembles the one RAJ has assembled. If the Marlins want more, throw in Mini Mart – or offer them Howard if they’ll pick up even 10 years of the remaining 90 years on his contract.

    Many here, including me, doubt Ryno has the green light to platoon Howard due to his exorbitant salary. It would sting sitting him on the bench even when he’s healthy but the reality is it stings more when he’s allowed to start against lefties and only serves to wear down his aging body sooner. In other words, the team would get more back out of that contract by platooning him and in the process do everybody concerned, including Ryan, a favor. He can still be an high RBI impact player if used properly and his body is not wasted against the Pedro Felicianos of the league who own his number.

  14. wbramh

    October 21, 2013 at 12:07 am

    “A long season” for young Asche?
    Does the number 2,632 sound familiar?

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