Alec Asher might be your kind of dude. As a matter of fact, he might be an honorary Texan. We tend to like underdogs with a chip on their shoulder. A dude who's given adversity an emphatic double middle finger salute is generally our type of dude. Of course, shucking through muddy waters is easier when you're 6'4", 225lbs, and bequeathed with the endurance of most 21 year olds. A bearded face and a growing collection of tattoos helps as well. Adversity doesn't stand a chance.
Such is the case for Alec Asher. Drafted out of high school by the Giants, he'd agreed to an $80K signing bonus and made the solo trek to Arizona for a physical and to sign the docs. According to this 2011 article by Tom Zebold from The Lakeland Ledger trouble with the physical led to young Alec sitting, alone, in a hotel room for three days only to have his contract never offered and a plane ticket back home to Florida thrust into his hand. Thanks, but no thanks. The kid who'd had Tommy John surgery at age 14 was sent home on account of bone spurs in his elbow. Alec had committed to Sante Fe College in Gainesville before his senior season in HS and a generous coach honored his previous offer. Following surgery and a season at SFC in which he made 13 appearances, Alec jumped over to Polk State in 2012 where he went 11-1 with 27BB/108K in 111ip. Texas liked the big, sturdy strike thrower and popped him in the 4th round of the 2012 draft. Asher pitched in relief for Spokane last summer making 20 appearances, all out of the pen, giving him 146 total innings pitched for the season. In Spokane's pen he was able to dial it up a bit and still show fairly good command resulting in 11BB/50K in 34ip, but he came into Spring Training with some helium as a starter candidate. Sure enough, a good showing in Surprise warranted a complete skip of low-A Hickory and a spot in Myrtle Beach's rotation.
A crappy first start in which he allowed 3HR and 4ER has been followed up by 5 pretty nasty ones. In those 5 starts Alec has pitched 30 innings, given up 5er, 7bb, struck out 29 hitters and allowed no home runs. Tuesday night might have been his best night as a pro. 6ip, 2h (both, infield singles!), 1BB, and 11K, 8 of which were of the swinging variety. It was a gem and hopefully a harbinger of a solid first year in full-season ball for the big right hander. Stuff wise, Alec features a 91-95mph fastball, a curveball, a changeup, and a slider. He's an aggressive pitcher who challenges hitters with his fastball and works off of that. I caught up with Alec and asked him for some brief thoughts on Tuesday's outing.
What was the key tonight?
AA: "I was down in the zone, for the most part, commanding the fastball in and out and keeping them off balance with the curveball"
I noticed a few fastballs up in the zone. Was that intentional to change the eye level or did they just get away a bit?
AA: "Well, when I had guys down in the count, I would go up to change the eye level and to set up the next pitch, but there were a couple that got away."
Cool. Who gives a shit if they got away. The hitters looked incredibly uneasy all night. What else did you throw tonight other than the fastball and the curveball?
AA: "Ha, exactly, they don't know they weren't intentional! I threw about 7 changeups and 1 slider. I was gonna make them prove they could hit the heater, and they never did so I didn't really resort to much offspeed."
Lots of Lone Star Ball readers are rooting for you because of the Giants thing. Texans always like underdogs with chips on their shoulder.
AA: "Yeah, I definitely have something to prove!"
I told Alec to stay healthy and to keep pluggin' away. I don't know what Alec will become. Is he a middle of the rotation starter at the big league level? A strike-throwing reliever? More? Less? Who knows! Lots and lots of time to let that play out. But I do know he's a big, sturdy kid who likes to compete and has good stuff that combined with his control makes for an intriguing prospect. Throw in his penchant for overcoming hurdles and I feel confident he's going to be somebody's favorite youngin' to root for in the future.