Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal had an interesting nugget in his MLB news and notes piece about the Phillies' future plans with third baseman Cody Asche. In it, he suggested there are discussions inside the organization about a position move for Asche.
The Phillies are talking internally about moving Cody Asche from third base to the outfield next season -- a move that would clear third for top prospect Maikel Franco, who currently is at Triple A.
Asche, a left-handed batting .259 with four homers and a .789 OPS, has impressed the Phillies offensively, and the team’s outfielders rank a combined 26th in the majors in OPS.
Moving Asche to the outfield would make sense, seeing as how his defensive skills at third are lacking. Asche has made six errors already this year, and advanced defensive metrics paint him as an unholy hybrid of Frankenstein's monster and Ty Wigginton. With good reports on his defense at Lehigh Valley and a recent hot streak in which he's added walks to the power/average profile he showed last year, Franco looks like the better long-term bet at third base on both sides of the ball.
The question is whether Asche's bat merits a corner outfield slot. As Rosenthal points out, he'd be a major improvement over what the Phils have rolled out in the pasture through 41 games this season--but a lot of that reflects the early struggles of Domonic Brown, whose all-star campaign last year likely (and appropriately) guarantees more time to straighten himself out. If Brown still looks broken in 2015, maybe Asche replaces him in left; another possibility would be Marlon Byrd moving on, with either Brown or Asche taking over in right. (We're guessing he's not a viable option to replace Ben Revere.)
The unfortunate aspect here is that the Phillies have few other viable outfield prospects in the high minors. At double-A Reading, former 2008 first-round picks Anthony Hewitt and Zach Collier are batting .345... combined, with Collier at .207, and Hewitt at .138. Aaron Altherr, the one possible center fielder in the bunch, is struggling almost as much with a .210/.266/.320 line. Kelly Dugan started the season well before getting injured, but most prospect mavens see him as a fourth outfielder. If Asche could move to an outfield corner and provide even league-average production for the minimum, it would mean one less large hole to fill as the Phillies transition from their current aging lineup core.