After the Phillies drafted Cornelius Randolph with the tenth overall pick of the MLB Draft last week, the organization announced that the high school shortstop will spend a few years in the minors to learn how to play the outfield.
Last month the Phillies sent another infielder to the minors to absorb the finer points of the outfield. The big difference was that Cody Asche had just two weeks to soak up how to track fly balls hit 300 feet off the bat.
“It was quite an adjustment,” Asche said.
Now that’s an understatement.
The 24-year-old Asche had never played the outfield at any level prior to last month..
“I’ve always been an infielder,” Asche said. “That’s how it’s been since I’ve been a kid. But it doesn’t mean that I can’t make the adjustment to the outfield. I can play left.”
Asche, who has played a decent left field for a guy just getting his feet wet, is correct. But it shouldn’t be surprising considering that Asche is athletic.
One of the best lines from Charlie Manuel was uttered after he was asked in 2009 if Raul Ibanez could play a decent left field. “Well, Pat Burrell once played left, didn’t he?”
If a player has the ability to run, has good instincts and owns a solid baseball mind like Asche, he should be able to play left. But there are subtleties to the position.
“The toughest part for me is judging the line drives that start hooking,” Asche said. “I’m doing the best that I can. I’m working hard at it. I have a much better idea of how to track a fly ball off the bat than I did a month ago.”
Asche has struggled at the plate since returning from his brief stint in the minors.
“That’s not an excuse,” Asche said. “They expect me to hit and I expect to hit. I’m working hard at both sides, offense and defense.”
Asche has no hard feelings since Maikel Franco has taken his job at third base.
“You look at him and you see a future All-Star,” Asche said. “He’s going to be a great player. He’s a great fielder. He can hit. He has lots of power. I love being out there behind him on the field. It’s an interesting time for this team. He makes us younger. But I’m also one of the younger guys. We’re out there learning and we’re also going all out. We’re fighting. We’re coming back in games. We’re going out there to win. It’s going to be an interesting summer.”
It’ll be curious to see what Dom Brown, who was called up Saturday, can do for the rest of the season. This could be Brown’s last chance, in his ninth season with the organization. Apparently, the outfield for the foreseeable future will be Asche in left, Ben Revere in center and Brown, who picked it up recently in AAA, in right.