Kevin Cooney and Todd Zolecki noted on twitter tonight that Cody Asche has been optioned to Lehigh Valley to play left field. A concurrent move calling up the red-hot Maikel Franco from Lehigh Valley to play third base has not been made yet, though it appears to be imminent based on the Asche move. With every week of solid production from Franco at Lehigh Valley, the drumbeat to call him up has gotten louder and steadier.
The Phillies are 11 - 22 right now, and on pace for a 54 - 108 season. They are going nowhere. One player will not help them win this year, but if they are to win again in our lifetimes, Maikel Franco is likely going to be a part of it. His call up last fall was uninspiring at the plate, but he played all the defense at third. He doesn't walk, but has some power and doesn't strike out at a hideous rate, and he represents a possible, yet frustratingly mythical "Right Handed Bat" that has been missing from the Phillies since, well, Hunter Pence. He is also 22 and has a nice ceiling.
On a night when Cody Asche's inability to field a rocket from Gregory Polanco led to an insurance run that ended up being the difference tonight for the Pirates, the ability of Franco to field his position at third may be enough reason to have him playing in Philadelphia. His defense was, to me, surprisingly good late last summer during a cup of coffee. Reports on it this spring have continued to be good. The bat, if it does come around and can hit MLB pitching, would be a bonus this year.
Asche has a wRC+ of 69, having crashed to earth following a delirious, but BABIP-fueled start to the season. His defense has been marginal to meh with stretches of egad. Asche is not going to be a good corner outfielder, but as a sub, he could be a useful part for the Phillies in the future as well as being the equivalent of a third base insurance policy in the style of Greg Dobbs, having at least some modest cash value. Offensively, Franco has little to prove at Lehigh Valley. Franco's actual call-up date is likely going to be in a little under a week, owing to team control rules -- someone with a better handle on that can chime in below in the comments.