"He could," Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "He's athletic enough. But there is not anyone pushing him right now. Maikel isn't pushing him."
"That remains to be seen at this point," Sandberg said. "Wherever it is, I know he has good work habits and seems to make adjustments. He seems to show improvement as he's gone, and that's what I see at third base right now."
Asche spent his first professional season in the minors at second base. He will never be a Gold Glove defender, but the Phillies could attempt to make Asche super versatile, like Ben Zobrist in Tampa Bay. That would add value to his bat.
The 24-year-old has spent just under a year in the majors.
"I think he's gaining some confidence, and I think it's really about experience," Amaro said. "The young kids have to get a chance to play. He's getting that chance. . . . He's still working on stuff defensively and still trying to instill confidence, but he's been contributing, taking more aggressive swings, and making pretty good contact."
The Phillies did not reach any deadline deals Friday with unsigned draft picks. They signed 28 of their 40 picks, including 27 of the top 28 selections. Just one of those 28 signees was a high school player, righthander Sam McWilliams from Tennessee.
The lone unsigned player among the top 28 was righthander Ryan Powers, a 22d-rounder who opted to return to Miami (Ohio) University for his senior season.
All 28 signed players have already made their pro debuts.
Carlos Ruiz (concussion) was 1 for 4 in seven innings as high-A Clearwater's catcher Saturday. He could be activated Friday. He caught first-round pick Aaron Nola, who allowed two runs in five innings with five strikeouts and no walks. . . . Wil Nieves (strained right quadriceps) caught seven innings Saturday for double-A Reading. He will serve as the Fightin Phils' designated hitter Sunday and should be activated Monday.