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Asche showing potential to be solid for Phils

Rookie third baseman displaying more power than expected in Majors @BerniePleskoff

Cody Asche (pronounced ASH-ee) was an outstanding high school baseball player, earning awards and statewide recognition playing second base at Fort Zumwalt West High School in O'Fallon, Mo.

The left-handed-hitting Asche had a composite batting average of .425 over his high school career, including a .512 mark his senior season. Following graduation, he attended University of Nebraska, where he hit .327 in his junior year. Asche changed positions at Nebraska, playing third base instead of second.

The Phillies selected Asche in the fourth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft. Asche is No. 7 on the Phils' Top 20 Prospects list.

Asche struggled in his first season in the Phillies' farm system. He began his career playing second base for Williamsport in the Class A Short-Season New York-Penn League, where he hit only .192 with 50 strikeouts in 268 plate appearances.

Last season, the Phils moved Asche back to third base. He was assigned to Class A Advanced Clearwater, where he hit .349, a tremendous improvement from his inaugural campaign.

Asche hit so well in the first half last season that he was promoted to Reading in the competitive Double-A Eastern League. He hit .300 in his 289 plate appearances, covering 68 games.

Asche's improvement from his difficult rookie year to his second season might well be attributed to his position change to third base. It seems he was more comfortable after having moved, and it really showed.

I scouted Asche in last season's Arizona Fall League, where he had a very good campaign for the Peoria Javelinas. He hit .281 in 89 at-bats. Of Asche's 25 hits, one was a home run and 11 were doubles. He struck out only 16 times, a testament to his good plate discipline and solid pitch recognition.

Asche has a very quiet approach at the plate. It's as simple as "See the ball, hit the ball." There isn't much pre-pitch movement of either his bat or his body. Asche uses his legs and trunk extremely well to complement adequate, but not overly quick hands through the ball.

At 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, the 23-year-old Asche has likely realized his full physical development. He has a well-proportioned body with good strength and quickness.

I feel Asche will likely be a more dependable gap-double-type hitter, although he is showing more power recently than I expected. He'll get his share of homers, but I think he will be known more for providing a big hit to drive in key runs. Asche's short stroke is designed to drive the ball to right-center field, a great destination for his stroke.

Defensively, Asche is probably athletic enough to play anywhere in the infield, with the exception of shortstop, where he might not have sufficient range or arm strength. He might also be able to play left field. Asche is good enough to lengthen the lineup of his club at any role where he's needed. But in my opinion, third base is his best position. That's where Asche appears to be the most natural and where his defensive tools fit best.

Recently, Asche has assumed the third-base position for the parent Phillies. On July 30, he was promoted to Philadelphia, and he's played 38 games, all at third base. Asche is hitting .271, including five home runs.

In a game that can be very humbling for even the most seasoned veterans, Asche is making an outstanding case to become the Phils' regular third baseman next season.

Bernie Pleskoff has served as a professional scout for the Houston Astros and Seattle Mariners. Follow @BerniePleskoff; on Twitter.

Philadelphia Phillies, Cody Asche