(Photo via Zimbio.com)
Cody Asche had the potential to be part of a renewed Philadelphia Phillies core as of 2013. As the 26-year-old works through his fourth major league season it's become possible that he's entered his last calendar year as a member of the organization. Encouraging evidence in the rebuild has dramatically increased the number of good young players who could become part of the next Phillies' playoff team, which directly affects Asche's tenure.
Strictly playing left field this year has helped Asche to up his defensive game. He had been an exclusive third baseman until the spring of 2015, when the Phillies assigned him a left fielder's glove. Maikel Franco, one of the aforementioned youthful position players, took over the hot corner at the start of last season, which necessitated Asche's move.
The Phillies didn't cut ties with Asche, via trade or some other transaction last year. Philadelphia hasn't done that so far this season either. That's because the former fourth round 2011 draft selection is still seen in a positive light. A spring training oblique strain, ongoing questions surrounding whether he's strictly a platoon player and at what position, have prevented him from starting regularly for the Phillies throughout the current campaign.
General manager Matt Klentak was open about using this season to audition various players for the future. Asche's charge is to prove that he can produce at the plate and therefore justify an everyday spot in the outfield. Defensively, he's proven to be a competent, though not an outstanding fielder. However, Asche plays left, where Greg Luzinski and Pat Burrell were part of World Series championship squads in 1980 and 2008, respectively. So, a Gold Glove isn't required in left field on a winner, as long as that player's bat sings consistently.
Tyler Goeddel, who played in Double-A for the Tampa Bay Rays last season, has already demonstrated a strong arm when playing in left field. Offensively, he hasn't been given enough at bats for the Phillies to gauge whether he can play in the outfield regularly. However, his ongoing Rule 5 status indicates that Philadelphia may want him to be part of its long-term plans.
Then, there's All-Star Odubel Herrera. His roster spot is fully secured, which means that there's only two, or three, available outfield spots moving forward. Asche won't return to third, unless Franco is shelved, for the season. Plus, the volume of prospects in the upper-minor league system that includes: Nick Williams, possibly Cam Perkins, Dylan Cozens, Andrew Pullin and Roman Quinn, if he can ever stay healthy, leads one to believe that at least a few of those players will earn a shot in the Phillies' major league outfield soon. So, Asche must convince the front office that he's a core piece, or he'll probably be traded this summer, or in the upcoming off-season.