The most impressive surprise in the Phillies farm system this season has been Cody Asche. Asche was a high draft pick by the Phillies last June out of Nebraska where he played third base for the Cornhuskers. He hit only .192 at Williamsport after being converted into a second baseman. The Phillies this spring returned Cody to third base in the minor league camp and as they say the rest is history. His development with the Clearwater Threshers could not have come sooner since the Phillies have a great need at third and no apparent prospect at AAA or AA to replace 36 year old Placido Polanco whose contract is up at the end of the season.
Last night in Clearwater against the Miami Marlin’s Jupiter Hammerheads farm team, Cody showed why he is a five tool prospect at third base. It was a night for Cody and all of us in the stands to remember. In the fourth inning Cody hit a ball off a hotel sign attached one third of the way up a light pole in right for what could have been a tape measure home run, if the ball had not hit the sign on its way out of the park. In the next inning he fielded a slowly hit ground ball headed toward the hole between short and third and made a strong accurate throw to just get the runner at first. Then in the sixth inning, he lined a ball to center that went by the charging center fielder. Cody showed he can pick them up and lay them down as he ran out a triple before the ball could be retrieved. On that play he drove in what turned out to be the fourth and winning run in the Thresher’s 4-3 win.
Asche has been simply amazing this season. What I find most amazing is his ability to hit left-handed pitching. A left-handed batter, Asche hit his long homer against a lefty and is hitting .360 against both left-handed and right-handed pitching this season. He is second to the Detroit Tigers, 2010 No. 1 draft pick and Lakeland third baseman Nick Castellanos who is hitting .411 to lead the FSL. However Cody has hit .400 in his last ten games, the same as Castellanos. Also while Cody has committed only three errors all season at the hot corner, Castellanos has committed seven errors there.
What remains to be seen is how long the Phillies can afford to keep Cody at Clearwater. He does not turn 22 until June 30th but has had only 136 at bats a high A. I say what more does he have to prove at high A?
He reminds me in body type to Chase Utley. The Phillies back in 2001 kept Utley at Clearwater all season where he had 523 at bats and hit .257. The next season he went to AAA but as we all remember he did not become a full time starter for the Phillies until several years later. After last night and so far this season I can not see how they can keep Cody down on the farm especially at high A for much long with such a pressing immediate need at third base for the big team in Philadelphia.