Phillies infielders on the farm

Posted: October 09, 2012

ON THE FARM

The Phillies could go into 2013 with a 1-year, stopgap answer at third base if Cody Asche continues to blossom. Asche, 22, began to get labeled as the third baseman of the future after hitting .300 with 10 home runs, 47 RBI, a .360 OBP and .873 OPS in 68 games at Double A Reading in 2012. Asche hit .324 with an .849 OPS in 130 total games between Reading and Class A Clearwater.

The farm system's deepest collection of bats comes behind the plate. Sebastian Valle, 22, hit 17 home runs in 105 games between Reading and Triple A Lehigh Valley . . . but also had a .271 OBP. Valle was supplanted on the prospect depth chart when the Phillies acquired 21-year-old Tommy Joseph in the Hunter Pence trade. Joseph is a year removed from hitting 22 home runs with 95 RBI at Class A San Jose.

The two best middle infield prospects are second baseman Cesar Hernandez and shortstop Roman Quinn. The 22-year-old Hernandez draws a lot of comparisons to Freddy Galvis, except with a better bat. Hernandez hit .304 with a .345 OBP in 103 games at Reading before a late-season promotion to Lehigh.

Quinn is much further away from the big leagues. The 19-year-old Quinn, a second-round pick in 2011, hit .281 with a .370 OBP in 66 games at short-season Williamsport. Quinn, who profiles as a leadoff hitter with game-changing speed, went 30-for-36 in stolen-base attempts.

FREE AGENTS:

The Phillies have invested $46 million in the trio of Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins in 2013. So there's no sense in listing the potential free agents at their respective positions.

The Phils do, however, have a glaring hole at third base. Coincidentally, one of the few players ready to hit the open market is also the guy who last held the position for longer than 3 years: Scott Rolen.

The fact that the 37-year-old Rolen heads the third-base free-agent class tells you all you need to know about the third-base free-agent class. Rolen played in fewer games than Placido Polanco in the last 2 years (157 vs. 212) and was about as productive, too. Rolen hit .244 with a .698 OPS in the last two seasons in Cincinnati.

Perhaps it's Kevin Youkilis, instead, who heads the free-agent class. But "Youk's" stats in 2012 make it difficult to "lead" in anything: he hit .235 with a .745 OPS. Both numbers are well off his career averages (.283 and .867, respectively). In the case of both Rolen and Youkilis, the Phils likely aren't all that interested in another aging, declining infield bat, unless it's as a 1-year stopgap solution.

Placido Polanco and Ty Wigginton will also head out on the open market with a list of available players that might have to be accompanied by a laugh track: Eric Chavez, Mark DeRosa, Maicer Izturis and Jose Lopez.

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