Cody Asche: The rise of Smasche


Cody Asche has been one of the Phillies bright spots recently, from his rise through the organization to the way he has performed admirably in the big leagues and his dedication to improving his game. His stats have never been out-of-the-water incredible, but his solid contribution to the Phillies line-up is one which hasn’t been well documented, and I feel he needs recognition as one of the more admirable performers, both defensively and offensively.

Born it St. Charles, Missouri in 1990, Cody James Asche played baseball as a kid from around the age of five, with his father and brother in the back yard of his home. At Fort Zumwalt, the high school he attended, he hit .512 in his senior year, before attending the University of Nebraska and becoming a Cornhusker. He earned numerous accolades, including his conference-leading 12 homers in his junior year, including a second best 56 RBIs, earning him status as a second-team All-American. He studied Economics, and got on the Conference Commissioner’s Honor Roll as a student-athlete with a GPA of at least 3.0.

The Philadelphia Phillies picked up Cody Asche as the 151st (4th round) overall pick of the 2011 MLB draft, where he began his Minors career at the Williamsport Crosscutters at Class-A level. The ‘Cutters moved Asche to second base, and he struggled in his first season, hitting just .192 with a .273 OBP, 11 doubles and 19 RBIs. Psychologically, it was attributed this to the change in position and lack of a real ‘comfort zone’, and so he moved back to his more favourable 3rd base position for the start of the 2012 season.

The Phillies kept faith in Asche and he began the 2012 season at the Advanced-A Clearwater Threshers, where he spent 62 games. He adjusted perfectly, hitting an impressive .349 average over 270 at-bats, with 2 homers, 25 RBIs and 10 stolen bases.

His performance at Clearwater earnt Cody Asche a promotion to the Double-A Reading Phillies (now the Fightins), where he once again demonstrated fantastic ability to adapt to a higher level of baseball. Through 68 games and 289 at-bats Asche managed a .300 average, and demonstrated a new tool to his game as his bat gained some pop, allowing him to hit 10 homers with 47 RBIs.

The rise of Cody Asche was really beginning to gather serious momentum, and this was epitomised by his promotion to Triple-A Lehigh to start the 2013 season. He was a non-roster invitee to spring training with the Phillies, so the Phillies could get a better look at his skillset and compare him to Maikel Franco, another hot prospect.  Yet again, Cody Asche went out and proved he was one of the most pleasant surprises in the Phillies system, as through 104 games at Lehigh Asche hit 295, further demonstrating his power and clutch hitting with 15 homers and 68 RBIs. His skillset appeared to be one of the most well-rounded infield prospects in the Minor Leagues, as he managed 11 steals, and his plate discipline earnt him a .352 OBP.

For the Phillies, success at AAA was all they needed to see, and he was promoted to the Major Leagues for the latter part of the 2013 season, completing a 3-year rise from A- all the way to the Promised Land. In truth, he didn’t set the world alight in the 179 at-bats he had in the MLB, but nevertheless hit a solid .235 with 5 homers and a .302 OBP as his walk percentage increased to 8.4%.

Aug 3, 2014; Washington, DC, USA; Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Cody Asche (25) reaches for a ground ball in the sixth inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. The Nationals won 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The highlight of his first bit of action in the Majors was a game-winning 2 run homer against the Braves on September 6th, in a year which many thought had given Asche the starting third base spot. Sure enough, he was named the opening day starter at third base after Franco was demoted, and it would prove to be a successful move as he went 3-for-4 with 2 RBIs, a double and a homer.  He came under fire as he began to struggle, and found himself being replaced in the line-up by Freddy Galvis and Jayson Nix, but none of the three really came close to good production.

The Phillies held fire and chose not to promote Franco, and instead stuck with Cody, although he continued to struggle. His defensive ability was called into question when he committed three errors in a game on May 14th against the Angels, and just as he got some momentum after going 7-for-12 in a series against the Cincinnati Reds, he was placed on the DL with a strained left hamstring.

So far, in an up-and-down season with the Phillies, Cody Asche is hitting .247 over 86 games and 316 Abs, with 37 RBIs and 17 doubles, hitting mostly from the 8-spot in the line-up.

Last night in particular he showed just what he can provide, with a lead-off double against Mets pitcher Jenrry Meija in the bottom of the 9th when the Phillies were down by a run. He would eventually score and the Phillies would go on to walk-off. From nothing, Asche had proved to be the offensive catalyst, inspiring a victory that could prove to be the turning point in the season, you never really know.

Cody has a lot of supporters, and the general consensus among Phillies fans is relief that a prospect actually looks like working out, and we can promote from within as an organization. Sure, it probably hasn’t helped Maikel Franco in terms of gaining an opportunity, but his time will come.

Fingers crossed Asche can continue to develop his skills, and a couple of years from now he could be the everyday starter and consistent producer he has promised to be. A future infield featuring Asche, Franco and J.P. Crawford would be ideal, but for now everyone should remain firmly grounded.