It’s not uncommon for a team to consider every possible avenue, including shifting positions, in order to fit their top young players into the lineup at the same time and it would seem as though that discussion may already be taking place in the Philadelphia Phillies front office. The team has started to have some internal discussions, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, about moving Cody Asche from third base to left field in order to make room for Maikel Franco.
Asche first made his debut with the Phillies this past season, appearing in 50 games and batting .235/.302/.389 in 179 plate appearances. While the numbers don’t necessarily scream “All Star”, the team saw enough that they headed into the offseason with the expectation that Asche would be their starting third baseman this season.
He got off to a slow start to the year, but has bounced back in recent weeks to pull his overall numbers up to a .259/.344/.444 line through 122 PA. Reports suggest that he’s impressed the team at the plate, but there are still plenty of concerns about his ability to handle third. Asche has already committed six errors on the season in just 33 games in the field.
Franco, meanwhile, has struggled in his go-around at Triple-A. He’s batting just .241/.322/.380 on the year in 177 plate appearances. He’s striking out at a higher rate against tougher competition, but at 21 is a good six years younger than most of the pitchers he’s been facing. He also carries plenty of concerns defensively, particular with a quirky throwing motion across his body that could eventually pose a problem down the line.
Franco, however, is coming off a monstrous 2013 season that pushed him up prospect rankings. In 134 games between High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading he hit .320/.356/.569 with 31 HR. The hope is that he can continue such production, giving the Phillies the top-notch offensive third baseman that they haven’t had since Scott Rolen pushed his way out of town.
There’s no way of knowing if the team will end up moving Asche or how he’d handle such a transition. Aside from 64 games during his first professional season at second he’s spent his entire career at third base since the team drafted him in 2011. The move would be a bold one by the Phillies and could also have further reaching ramifications as it would push Domonic Brown out of left field.