It’s evident that third base is Cody Asche’s job to lose. Everyone feels that way except, well, Asche. The hard-nosed rookie, who impressed with his gritty play and attitude during a late summer audition, doesn’t believe it’s a given he’ll score the hot corner gig.
“I’ve got to earn it,” Asche said. “I’ll work as hard as I can to make the team.”
Asche’s approach is reminiscent of Vance Worley’s take on his role with the Phillies prior to the start of the 2012 season. Vanimal had every reason to believe that the fifth spot in that stellar rotation was his after finishing 2011 with an 11-3 record and nearly winning Rookie of the Year honors. But Worley stressed he had to earn a spot on the squad.
Asche showed flashes of what he could become in 2013 with a short, sweet left-handed swing, which approximates, what his mentor, Chase Utley, brings to the plate.
“He’s a great role model, not just for me but for any player,” Asche said. “I would like to make an impact like he has.”
Utley didn’t rise in the ranks as quickly as Asche but few players have surfaced so quickly. Asche was drafted in the fourth round, with little fanfare, in the 2011 draft out of the University of Nebraska. The Phillies normally don’t rush prospects through their system but Asche has been an exception. The fundamentally sound Missouri native never spent a full season at any level in the Phillies farm system.
It’s easy to see why. Asche is very good defensively and has considerable potential at the plate. “I like Asche a lot,” Phillies coach Larry Bowa said. “He’s a ballplayer. He plays the game the right way.”
Asche is a quick study, who will be running the major league marathon for the first time in his brief career unless top prospect Maikel Franco has a spring training for the ages. Asche would also have to stumble. So the odds are that the intense Cornhusker will start at third for the Phillies. It’s been a position filled by transients during the Citizens Bank Park era. Pedro Feliz, David Bell and Michael Young are some of the prominent names, who have covered third for the Phillies over recent years.
“But Asche might be the guy for the Phillies at third for years to come,” a NL scout said. “He has all of the tools. He’s got a nice glove and he has a huge upside.”
If Asche works out at third, that would be huge for the Phillies since he would be one of three athletes starting for Ryne Sandberg’s team, who make less than $2 million a season. The Phillies, which is up against the luxury tax threshold, can use some productive inexpensive help. The squad also needs more offense.
“I just want to do whatever I can to help this team,” Asche said.
He should get the chance to make the impression on a squad that can use a boost at third base.