Third base help is on the way! If you’re like me in my Tout Wars league, you may have been juggling third basemen all season long. I have endured Kevin Youkilis, Luis Valbuena and Lonnie Chisenhall with fingers crossed that Aramis Ramirez does indeed return from the DL this weekend. Now deep league owners have two more options to consider.
Cody Asche | PHI 3B | CBS 6% Owned
When word spread that the Phillies were planning to call up Cody Asche, the assumption was that Michael Young was as good as gone, opening up third base for the 23-year-old. But the Phillies being the Phillies led to the team instead holding onto Young and moving him across the diamond to play first base. Although Asche hits from the left side, manager Charlie Manuel does not plan to platoon him, though he may sit here and there against some tougher lefties early on. That’s good news since nothing is more annoying in weekly leagues than checking the upcoming schedule and counting how many games your platoon hitter is actually going to start.
This pre-season, Asche was ranked fifth among Phillies prospects by Marc Hulet. His minor league power output has been solid, yet unspectacular, as he posted a .191 ISO at Triple-A this season in a park that favors pitchers and suppresses home runs, along with a .213 ISO at Double-A last year in a park that inflates homers. Citizens Bank Park is an excellent place for left-handed power hitters though, so he has landed in a good place. But, his home run prospects look to be around replacement level from a third baseman, maybe 15-20 over a full season.
Aside from the power, he also brings a bit of speed to the table. It’s a nice little bonus from a position that doesn’t usually provide stolen bases. He seems to have slightly above average speed, so there’s no telling how much he’ll actually run in Philadelphia, but the upside for double digits in a full year is there. The one concern is his strikeout rate, which has increased at each level since High-A ball. But, he’s shown an ability to post well above average BABIP marks in the minors, so he does have the potential to contribute neutral or positive value all around.
Wilmer Flores | NYM 2B/3B | CBS 10% Owned
After David Wright suffered a hamstring injury expected to sideline him for three to five weeks, the Mets were left with a gaping hole on the left side of their infield. Yesterday, Wilmer Flores received the call and is expected to garner every day at-bats at the hot corner. He makes excellent contact, which is probably his best skill that relates to fantasy baseball. He has never posted a strikeout percentage worse than 14% at any of his minor league stops.
The power has increased from High-A to Double-A to Triple-A, which is normally a great sign. However, two of the three home parks he played in inflated offense and home run totals significantly, so you have to account for these park factors when evaluating his performance. He may only end up contributing positive value in the batting average category given his strong contact rate, though he won’t be an absolute zero in home runs or steals. He may qualify at second base in your league as well, so that position flexibility helps. Still, I prefer Asche, as he probably has a bit more power and more steals potential.