When the Phillies announced that Cody Asche will be optioned to Triple-A and converted into an outfielder, it raised questions as to why the Phillies didn't play Asche in the outfield during winter ball or spring training if they knew their best position prospect played the same position.

Phillies assistant GM Scott Proefrock joined me on the Sports Bash and explained the Phillies thinking on this.

"We had discussions about it," Proefrock stated on the Sports Bash.  "But the thing that happened last year when Franco came up in September, he basically showed us that he wasn't ready to play in the major leagues.  He came into spring training, didn't really perform very well in spring training quite frankly and we pretty much decided that Cody was going to be our third baseman until Franco was ready to take over."

All of that is fine and understandable, spring training is a time to work on things, experiment with things, shouldn't Asche have been taking fly balls daily or even getting some work in live games to see if he was capable of playing the position?

"We didn't want to muddy the waters with him in spring training," Proefrock explained.  "He did take some fly balls, it had been discussed with him a little bit as a possibility.  But when we went down this road, we decided the best thing for Cody would be to get some time playing in left field in a situation that wasn't in the spotlight."

One of the main reasons Asche is being moved from third to left is defense, so while Franco might not have been ready to take over the position right away, it was inevitable that this move was going to be coming.

"Maikel is a superior defender at third base," Proefrock admitted.  "He's a much better defender than Cody is, we just wanted to make sure Maikel was ready offensively which he showed he wasn't last September."

Obviously other players have made the move from major league infielder too outfielder and as Proefrock described, Asche is a good enough athlete that he should be able to do it.

One question I have about Asche is he even suited to play the outfield as a hitter?  Teams typically look for some power and run production for left field, do the Phillies look at Asche as the type of player who can provide some power from a key corner outfield spot?

"That remains to be seen, we have people in the organization that believe Cody is going to be a fine offensive major league player.  But he still needs to go out and do that, he didn't do it as a third baseman.  He still has some things to prove as an offensive player in the major leagues regardless of where he plays."

So what about Franco?

He batted just .179 in a September call-up with the big club last season and struggled spring training to impress when given an opportunity.  What about him makes him ready now, other than his .346 batting average, as opposed to September or spring training when the team didn't think he appeared ready.

"Defensively, he is a superior defender," Proefrock said.  "His offense, is still a concern, he's going to have to make adjustments, but hopefully he can be out third baseman here for years to come and that's the hope.  We think he has that kind of potential to be a middle of the order bat, but he has to go out and do it."

Hopefully for the phillies Franco sticks but one has to wonder what the future of Asche will be, have the phillies lost him or have they added another piece to the rebuilding puzzle?

Time will tell.


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