There may be -3 degree wind chill outside, but for six lucky prospects, spring is already here.
The Phillies’ preseason roster will include several new faces to Clearwater, and the really interesting news is that they are not all pitchers.
Cody Asche, 3B
2012 [Clearwater/Reading]: .324/.369/.481 in 559 PA
Cody Asche, whom we are all waiting on to develop, has a last name that I only recently learned was pronounced “Ash-ee.” See, he’s already developing! Pack your bags, Michael Young.
The 22-year-old Asche complimented the Phillies for “not giving up” on him after his initial struggles following the 2011 draft. Little does he know, the Phillies have so few potentially effective position prospects that they have to be nice to everyone. HA-HA-HA HA-HA.
As a third baseman, Asche is of particular interest, as his Ruf-esque breakout year as a prospect caught some eyes at a position that had traditionally been a weak point for the Phils. However, some have gleaned his skillset as one of merely “bench” caliber, and are already shifting their hopes to Maikel Franco. But the kind has become a sponge, soaking in hitting prowess from every available source, and carries the slash line to prove it.
Tommy Joseph, C
AFL: .204/.291/.224 in
2012 [Reading]: .250/.327/.420 in 114 PA
Was Hunter Pence worth a catcher of the future? Yes he was. He certainly wasn’t worth $13.8 million.
Recently ranked #3 on the Phillies top prospect list, despite only arriving here in July, Joseph is already being pegged as an important role-player of the future. His alarming high school numbers, in which he hit close to .500, have given way to high expectations. As “solid” as you want to call that .250 batting average, it is actually well below the highly documented ceiling expected of Joseph. That, and his natural ability to lead should (presumably) come into play as his career pushes forward.
An invitation to Spring Training indicates that the Phillies are ready to start putting together a prospective picture of years to come. Or they just want to evaluate him in case some half-ass outfielder becomes available via trade.
Joe Mather, OF
2012: .209/.256/.324 in 243 PA
Joe Mather is not the exciting or at least curious young prospect just happy to be here. He’s a 30-year-old journeyman of such, having played with a variety of teams in a variety of farm systems, never really setting the world on fire. He is a viable candidate for the Phillies’ highly coveted 7th or 8th outfielder role, because with this group, there’s no outfield depth too deep, apparently.
His four year career as a Cardinal, Brave, and Cub has seen few twists and turns, but he has come in handy as a utility bench guy, and even once came into pitch for the Cubs during a 20-inning barn-burner. He lost the game.
According to Wikipedia, he “enjoys playing golf.”
Kyle Simon, RHP
AFL: 12 IP, 9.00 ERA, 2-2
2012 [Frederick, Clearwater, Reading]: 112.1 IP, 3.04 ERA, 1.202 WHIP
The 22-year-old sinkerballer came from the Orioles in exchange for Jim Thome. His days as a starter have been ended by the organization, whose decision to move him to the bullpen has fared quite well. Some have projected him to have an impact fairly soon, which makes sense then, that the team would want him at Spring Training this badly.
Justin Friend, RHP
Venezuela Winter League: 17.1 IP, 5.19 ERA, 3-1
2012 [Reading, Lehigh Valley]: 54 IP, 1.33 ERA, 1.167 WHIP
Friend was teammates with Darin Ruf down in Venezuela this winter, where he pitched quite amicably. The Phillies never give themselves much leeway when it comes to pitching, so Friend’s invitation after his promotion to Triple-A is no surprise. At 26, he is going into this preseason hoping to beat out one of the many right-handers competing for a bullpen spot. After last season, it seems he will be contending with guys who were too hurt to make a difference or too green to make adjustments. Whether or not Friend’s raw stuff will be enough to make an impact, only time will tell.
Adam Morgan, LHP
2012 [Clearwater, Reading]: 158.2 IP, 3.35 ERA, 1.109 WHIP
Morgan, the sole lefty of this crop, was the toast of Clearwater for a brief period after flirting with a perfect game. He’s been compared to Chris Capuano, so, that’s something else to say about him. His potential is seen as infiltrating the rotation as a deep-end guy. His invitation to Spring Training is an opportunity to trample John Lannan’s hopes and dreams.