The Phillies have not had a homegrown third baseman play the position on a regular basis at the major-league level since Scott Rolen was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals in the middle of the 2002 season. They believe that is soon going to change.
In fact, they believe they have three third basemen in their system capable of making it to the big leagues, with the closest being triple-A Lehigh Valley's Cody Asche. The other two top-level third-base prospects are high-A Clearwater's Maikel Franco and low-A Lakewood's Mitch Walding.
"I think they all have a chance, absolutely," said Lakewood manager Mickey Morandini, the former Phillies second baseman.
Morandini has managed all three players, so he has a unique perspective on each one. Here are his scouting reports for each player:
Cody Asche (Age 22, LH hitter, .267 Avg., .330 OBP, 1 HR, 13 RBIs entering Saturday)
"The strength of Cody was his mentality. He went through a bad year at Williamsport and it didn't bother him. He was still working hard. The outs kept piling up and he was very mentally tough. I think that's part of the reason he's up at triple A now because of that. I can't comment on him defensively because he played second for me [at Williamsport], but I know hitting- wise he's a contact hitter with some power. He can drive the ball and hit left-handed pitching. I think he's going to be pretty good."
Maikel Franco (Age 20, RH hitter, .301 Avg., .358 OPB, 5 HRs, 25 RBIs)
"He is a kid who has gotten better every year. He grew into his body a little bit and got rid of the baby fat. He's got one of the strongest arms in the organization and good hands. His footwork at third is getting better and better. When I first had him he was pretty much a free swinger and swung at a lot of balls out of the zone. With each year he has gotten better and better at that. He's going to strike out a little bit, but he can drive the ball. He's only 20, so he's on the path for some pretty good things. He's off to a great start and he has usually been a slow starter, so that's nice to see."
Mitch Walding (Age 20, RH hitter, .266 Avg., .337 OBP, 6 doubles, 16 RBIs)
"With Mitch, I see similar things between him and Franco. Strong arm. I think Mitch's footwork is a little better at third base. He has great hands. Mitch doesn't have the power the other two have right now, but I think that will come with time. Mitch is more of a middle to opposite field kind of hitter. Once we get him pulling the ball a little bit more, that's when he'll start hitting some home runs."