Sep 27, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Cody Asche (25) attempts to throw to first after fielding a ground ball in the second inning against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Baseball: Is Phillies' Cody Asche ready to emerge in 2014?

My 2014 Fantasy Baseball Preview continues with a look around the National League East and a stop in Philadelphia where I examine the Phillies third base battle between a pair of young and promising prospects.

Cody Asche is considered the leading candidate to win the third-base job this spring for the Phillies after playing well enough following his promotion to the majors last season.

Sep 20, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies third baseman Cody Asche (25) reacts to being tagged out at third base while trying to stretch a double into a triple during the sixth inning against the New York Mets at Citizens Bank Park. The Mets defeated the Phillies 6-4. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

However, Asche knows the pressure will be on to perform with top prospect Maikel Franco in camp looking to earn his way into the starting lineup.

Asche hit .235/.302/.389 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 162 at-bats last season and served as the Phillies’ starting third baseman in 44 of Philadelphia’s final games since his promotion in late July.

He is a decent late-round fantasy option as he doesn’t have great power, but could be in a position to drive in a good bit of runs. In two and a half years in the minors, Asche amassed a career .287/.343/.438 line with his best year being 2013 at AAA where he hit .295/.352/.485, totaling 15 home runs, 24 doubles, and 11 stolen bases over 404 at bats.

Asche is certainly not going to be a world beater, but having double digit home run and speed potential while hitting something in the .275 range is likely the kind of hitter than many of you could use at third base or in a utility role.

His main competition could come from the likes of Franco, one of Philadelphia’s top prospects.

Franco is waiting in the wings and capable of forcing his way onto the major league roster sometime in 2014.

The 21-year-old, who posted a .926 OPS with 31 homers between Double-A and High-A last season, but will be hard-pressed to win a major league job this spring unless Ache struggles and Franco lights the world on fire. However I would target Franco as a possible stash guy in really deep leagues. At the minimum you will want to monitor his progress in the minors as he is a guy you will want to grab if there is even a whisper of him making a trip to the majors in 2014.

Prediction: If Asche struggles and Franco has a huge spring, the Phillies will be forced to make a decision. However I just don’t see them rushing Franco to the majors by Opening Day. However if Asche struggles in a big way, the Phillies could be forced to go with some combination of Freddy GalvisKevin Frandsen and Ronny Cedeno.

That being said I like what Asche is capable of and think he will have a decent year. I currently have him as my 24th ranked third basemen, which means he likely is a guy that could go late in drafts.

Overall I project a .270 AVG, 17 HR, 65 RBI and 10 steals in his first full year in the majors. Those aren’t outstanding numbers by any stretch and Asche will have his ups and downs like any young hitter does, but he could be a guy to target as a sleeper.

Tags: Cody Asche Fantasy Baseball Maikel Franco Philadelphia Phillies

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