Key 2013 Statistics:
In 179 MLB PAs: .235/.302/.389, 5 HR, .299 wOBA
In 446 AAA PAs: .295/.352/.485, 15 HR, .374 wOBA
What happened in 2013:
Does everyone remember that coming in to 2013, the Phillies WEREN’T stacked at third base for the foreseeable future? Yes, Cody Asche had a fine 2012 (which put him among the top 5 organizational prospects coming into the year), and Maikel Franco had a great second half of the season, but he was barely scraping the top 10 of the organizational standings.
Zach Green was coming off of a respectable (but unspectacular) 47 game stint in rookie ball immediately after being drafted out of high school. Fortunately, all three of these guys ended their respective minor league seasons in 2013 with OPSs over .800 (especially that Franco guy) and I’m not sure, but I’d be willing to bet that coming into 2014, the Phillies have the most depth at third of any team in baseball.
For his part, Asche came into the season without too much fanfare, with most people having meager Major League expectations for the 23-year old. By midseason, he had suddenly gained the “highly touted” moniker, ostensibly pushing Michael Young right out of town at the end of July.
Through the first week in September, he was batting a great .284/.333/.485 with 4 HR in only 108 PAs. He came back to rookie-level Earth, however, only batting .148/.254/.230 the rest of the way (hampered by a hamstring injury and a bad-luck .222 BAbip).
What to expect in 2014:
Asche did enough to cement himself as 2014’s everyday third-baseman, although that didn’t require much. He’s not quite the “third-baseman of the future” as would be the case with most teams, as Maikel Franco’s absolute monster season leaves him knocking at the door in AAA if he continues his progress from last year.
Asche is more or less a) a placeholder until Franco is ready, b) the backup plan at third base if something goes wrong with Franco, and c) a potential strong trade chip depending, again, on Franco’s timetable.
See the common thread there? Cody Asche’s 2014 and beyond completely revolves around what happens with Maikel Franco this season. He’ll receive everyday ABs until Franco is ready, unless Asche can REALLY break out this season.
I’d say he’d have to replicate something near his AAA numbers from last season at the major league level to push Franco over to that currently …obscured… position across the diamond.
More realistically, I expect Asche to improve on his numbers from his Major League try-out in 2013. How much isn’t clear – a reasonable expectation has his OPS around .725 for the year – but I wouldn’t be shocked if his upside is that of Ryan Howard‘s 2013 line (.266/.319/.465) which despite how it sounds would actually be very good.
He WILL get a full season of ABs, and I would expect a low double-digit HR number, and maybe around that same number in SBs. His defense was shown to be a strength for him, and I expect it to continue in 2014.
The real question, however, if his full season of ABs will come completely with the Phillies. I’d like to see him stay around the whole year, and chances are he’d be kept until Maikel Franco gets half a season in the Majors and traded in the offseason.
With a large number of teams without a long term plan at third, and great depth at the position in Philadelphia, it makes sense to trade a prospect in an area of depth for prospects in areas with a lack of depth.
Unfortunately for Asche, he’s the odd man out in that “area of depth.”