I have been impressed with one position player this year with the Clearwater Threshers and that is third baseman Cody Ashe. From the first game of the season his left handed bat and physical build has reminded me of Chase Utley. Now for the past four games with the Threshers, Utley and Asche have played in the same line up. Last night the rehabbing Utley started his first game at second base after DHing in the three prior games. Facing the same pitchers in the last four regular season games Utley has hit .118 (2 for 17) while Asche has hit .555 (10 for 18) including at one point going 8 for 8 with a walk in a 9 at bat span.
Clearly Utley is working on his strike zone and his timing as he recovers from his knee problems. Still the last four Thresher games have given us a rare opportunity to watch close up Utley hit third and Asche hit fifth in the order facing the same pitching. Asche could not have been more impressive. Cody uses the whole field and last night just missed a home run as the wind knocked down his long drive to right center that resulted in a double. While Utley’s bat has been slow and Asche has displayed his quick line drive bat that drives the ball hard all over the field.
Asche is only one point off the Florida State League lead in batting average, hitting .346 for the season. What is even more impressive are his batting splits. In every split category listed on his MiLB page Cody is hitting over .300. What has been most impressive is how well he hits left-handers. As of today he is hitting 154 points higher against all pitchers than he hit last year with Williamsport in the NY-Penn League with nearly the same number of at bats.
If Cody can keep fielding well at third he has a great future ahead of him. His last error was throwing to first and the first baseman unable to make the scoop after Cody made a great stop at third. Last night against Dunedin he made another great stop at third only this time Jim Murphy was able to dig the ball out of the dirt at first for the out. Right now he is fielding at .955 with 6 errors on the season. Last year the Phillies gold glove third baseman Placido Polanco had a fielding percent of .977.
While Chase Utley represents the great Phillies past and maybe its present if he can get back on the field and play at a major league level at second, Cody Asche represents the future. Clearly Asche has to figure into the Phillies third base mix in a year or two. He has nothing left to prove at high A Clearwater and one would expect him to be called up to Reading at some point during the remainder of this season.