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Phillies say Cody Asche is their third baseman

GM Ruben Amaro says the third base job is Cody Asche's to lose.

Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

If you know what to make of Cody Asche after his 2014 season, you're a smarter person than me.

Given the everyday third base job out of spring training, Asche had an up-and-down rookie season at the hot corner. In 121 games and 434 plate appearances he hit .252/.309/.390 with 10 home runs, 46 RBIs, with a wOBA of .308 and a wRC+ of 94 (check out his Exit Interview here).

His fWAR of 0.4 was 15th out of 16 National League third basemen with at least 400 plate appearances, his wOBA and wRC+ were both 13th, and his .699 OPS was 12th. His -3 Defensive Runs Saved was 13th and his Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) was 16th out of 17 qualified NL third basemen.

However, Asche is just 24 years old, and despite those less-than-impressive stats, probably deserves more than one season in which to judge his future potential.

Of course, there is the team's other young third base prospect, Maikel Franco, who many believe is the true long-term answer at the position. In his cup of coffee with the Phils this year (58 PAs, 16 games) he hit .179/.190/.214. In 556 Triple-A plate appearances, he hit .257/.299/.428 with 16 HRs, one year after splashing onto the scene with a .339/.363/.563 season in Double-A Reading.

Many believe the job will be Franco's coming out of spring training next year. But general manager Ruben Amaro says, "not so fast."

"I would say Cody is going to be our third baseman," Amaro said Wednesday. "Cody had a very good rookie season. I think it’s his to have and to lose, as far as where it stands right now." - quote per CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury

Putting aside the "very good season" nonsense statement, Amaro's overall point is not crazy.

Franco is currently playing in the Dominican Winter League and is doing well there, hitting .302 with four homers and 14 RBIs in 13 games so far. And after a slow start in Triple-A last year, he got hot in the second half, hitting .324/.344/.580 from July 2nd through his call-up on September 1st. (Our own 88Lindros88 did an excellent write-up of Franco's season in his Exit Interview a couple weeks back).

But none of that means diddly-poo right now.

"It’s important for us that Maikel play well [in winter ball]. It’s important for him because we need him to play to give himself a chance to be on our club next year. But he’s no slam dunk to make our club."

Before you get into a huff and explode over this, keep in mind that Franco is still just 22 years old, a full two years younger than Asche. It would not be the greatest crime in the world to allow Asche to start the season at third, get some more ABs under his belt, and allow Franco more time to grow in Triple-A.

No, THIS would be the greater crime.

I reacted a bit strongly to that little chestnut, by the way.

A platoon of both players would only hurt their development. Both need to see as many pitches as possible in 2015, from both left-handers and right-handers. More than that, Howard should be pushed aside, and Franco should at least play first base every day, although his glove is much better than Asche's at third.

Either way, Asche and Franco need reps. Platooning would destroy that.

So, it's not outlandish that Amaro feels as if Asche is the leading candidate for the third base job. And, a lot can happen between now and Clearwater. It is only November after all. And despite everything you hear in the media, Asche says he has not been asked to move to another position.

...when asked if he hears the talk about a move to the outfield, [Asche says]. "We laugh about it sometimes. But no one has talked to me about it."

A strong spring performance by Franco, coupled with a weak spring by Asche, could push the Phillies to change their minds.

But there's no harm in giving Asche a public show of support right now, especially while Franco is tearing it up in the Dominican Republic.