The Philadelphia Phillies already know who is on first base, what they have at second base, and that when looking at shortstop, well, he doesn’t give a darn. The only spot in the infield that is up for grabs is third base, which was manned by Michael Young and Cody Asche last season. Asche took over after Young was traded away and provided some hope to be the team’s future third baseman. His stats at the end of his 50-game audition last season leave a bit to be desired, but Asche had a great stretch from August to September. That flash of potential made the third base job his to lose, but he now faces some competition this spring training in Maikel Franco.
Both Asche and Franco have gotten the same amount of opportunities this spring, with Franco only having one more plate appearance than Asche. However, they have not achieved the same results. So far this spring Asche has a .138 average with 11 strikeouts, 1 home run, and 3 RBIs. Meanwhile, Franco is hitting .206 with 5 strikeouts and 2 RBIs. While Franco has hit for a higher average and has fewer strikeouts, Asche has more extra base hits. That is not to say that Franco cannot hit for power, as he has been one of the few Phillies to hit the ball hard this spring.
At the Double A level last year Franco hit .339 with 15 home runs and 51 RBIs. He also hit .299 at Class A Clearwater last season. This brings his season totals split between Double and Single A to a .320 average with 31 home runs and 103 RBIs. This success caught the attention of many, and Franco was even recently ranked as the 17th best prospect in the game by Baseball America. His ceiling appears to be higher than what Asche has shown so far, but Asche’s big league experience cannot be ignored.
Asche as already gotten the chance to face big-league pitching and adjust to what it is like to play at the major league level. He also had success in the minors last year, where he spent a majority of the season. In 104 games at the Triple A level, Asche hit .295 with 15 home runs and 68 RBIs. Although his numbers at the major league level leave more to be desired, Asche’s success in the minors are a reason for optimism. He will be better prepared to play at the major league level heading into this season, and he should be closer to the player he was in Triple A.
Ultimately Asche will win the job over Franco. The simple fact of the matter is that Asche is more major league ready than Franco is, who has not even played at the Triple A level. Even though Asche is only two years older than Franco, he has faced much better competition. As much of a breakout season that Franco experienced last season, he must prove that he can not only be consistent but also that such success can translate to the Triple A level before he should considered for the major league roster.
Asche has not only shown he can succeed at the Triple A, but also that he can have success in the majors. It is important to keep in mind that he only played in 50 games in the majors last year. If you were to project Asche’s stats from 50 games over 162 games, you would be getting 16 home runs and 71 RBIs from third base, something the Phillies need this year. If the team wants that kind of contribution from third base, then Asche is the best choice to start.