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Asche far past rough season in Williamsport

January 21, 2014 - Mitch Rupert
Cody Asche took a moment to really soak in what he was doing when he drove in to Citizens Bank Park for the first time last July. He wasn't there as a fan. He wasn't just there as a prospect making a visit.

Asche, the Philadelphia Phillies' fourth-round pick in 2011 out of the University of Nebraska, pulled into the players' parking lot. It was the one time in his two months in the big leagues last summer that Asche allowed himself to really absorb the fact that he was a Major League Baseball player.

“When I pulled on to Pattison (Avenue), you see that your final destination is Citizens Bank Park that day,” Asche said. “Pulling into the parking lot that day was pretty neat.”

Asche was one of four representatives of the Philadelphia Phillies to appear at the Williamsport Crosscutters' annual Hot Stove Banquet on Monday. It's been quite the quick turnaround for Asche to become a member of the Philadelphia Phillies. Less than three years ago Asche was beginning his professional baseball career here in Williamsport as a rookie fresh out of Nebraska.

It's a summer Asche doesn't talk about much. There's not really much to talk about. It was the worst season of Asche's professional career, but one he was quickly able to put behind him to become the leading candidate to be the Phillies' starting third baseman come April.

“It's a whirlwind for college kids because you get drafted and two days later you're shipped out somewhere you've never been to play with people you've never met. It's kind of tough,” Asche said Monday night at the Genetti. “Some people handle it better than others and I wasn't one of the people that handled it well.”

Asche hit just .192 in 68 games with the Crosscutters in 2011. The 23-year old doesn't want to admit he was overwhelmed during that summer in Williamsport. But he was trying to adjust to the professional game after a career at the University of Nebraska, while also trying to shift from third base to second base defensively.

He committed 15 errors in 64 games as a second baseman. It was a rough summer all around for Asche, but you'd never know it by the two summers which followed.

He broke into the top prospects conversation in the organization when he double jumped to Clearwater to start the 2012 season and moved to Class AA Reading before the season was done. In 130 games that summer, Asche hit .324 with 12 home runs, 72 RBIs and 33 doubles.

He followed it last summer by hitting .295 in 104 games at AAA Lehigh Valley with 15 home runs and 68 RBIs before being called up to Philadelphia.

“I'm a guy that likes challenges, so I'll never admit (I was overwhelmed in 2011),” Asche said. “It just comes down to believing in yourself and playing good and I didn't play that well. Luckily I had a lot of guys in the organization who still believed in me and kept giving me opportunities. I'm thankful for those.”

Regardless what happened during Asche's summer in Williamsport, he's become one of the most intriguing prospects in the Phillies' system, except that he's no longer a prospect. Asche could receive a push from hot-hitting prospect Maikel Franco who played in Williamsport with Asche in 2011, but Franco has less than 300 plate appearances above A-ball and the likelihood is the Phillies will let him get some more experience in the minors.

Asche is the incumbent in the race to be the starter at third base in Philadelphia this year. It's been a quick trip through the minor league system, but one he thought he was capable of.

“You always have to be a supreme believer in yourself,” Asche said. “I'm surprised it happened this quickly because a lot of people don't take this path. But I'm not because you have that belief in yourself to do whatever you think you can.”

“It's usually not that easy,” said Phillies Director of Player Development Joe Jordan during the banquet. “I think sometimes you get ahold of a player who is strong and has the ability and they get to a point where they comfortable. He does the things you need to do to be successful. We challenged him every step along the way and he answered it every time.”


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