Alec Asher Scouting Report: Texas Ranger righthanded pitcher Alec Asher ranked #17 on the LSB Community Prospect Rankings.
In the days leading up to Opening Day, I'm going to offer write-ups on the 31 players who made the Rangers' LSB Community Prospect Rankings Top 31. I've done this the last couple of years, and I don't want to re-invent the wheel, so some of this will be a repeat of what I've written before, particularly regarding draft history or performance pre-2013. Also, this is not based on my personal observations -- I'm not a scout, and haven't seen most of these guys. I'm just aggregating the numbers and what others say about these players.
So, with that out of the way, let's take a look at Alec Asher...
Alec Asher is a 6'4", 220 lb righthanded pitcher who turned 22 this past October. Asher was a 4th round pick of the Rangers in the 2012 draft out of Polk Community College in Florida. The Rangers' 2012 draft featured several high-ceiling guys in the first two rounds who generated a lot of buzz, and as a result, some of the later picks have been overlooked. But Asher and Keone Kela, who came in at #16 on the Community Prospect Rankings, are both intriguing arms from that draft that are well worth keeping an eye on.
Asher had agreed to an $80,000 bonus with the San Francisco Giants as a 23rd round pick in the 2010 draft out of high school, but that deal was scotched after his physical revealed a bone chip in his right elbow -- the same elbow where he had undergone Tommy John surgery when he was 14. After two years at two different jucos, Asher was ranked as the #168 prospect in the draft, per BA, the Rangers popped him at #156 overall in the 2012 draft, and signed him to a bonus of $150,000, a little over half of the slot value for that spot. After signing, Asher went to Spokane, where he pitched out of the bullpen, throwing 35 innings over 20 games, striking out 50, walking 11, and allowing 4 homers and a 3.09 ERA.
Asher spent the 2013 season as a starter at Myrtle Beach in the high-A Carolina League, and he responded well to the challenge, putting up a 2.90 ERA (albeit while allowing a higher-than-normal 17 unearned runs) in 133.1 innings pitched, striking out 139 and walking 40 while allowing 10 homers. Asher improved as the season went on, other than a bad month of June, with monthly ERAs of 3.74/2.27/5.60/3.03/1.19, and had 21 scoreless innings to end his season. Although he didn't make Baseball America's top 20 prospect list for the Carolina League, Josh Leventhal praised him in the Carolina League chat session he did for BA:
Asher was certainly among a group of five to eight players who were in the running for the final few spots on the list. He opened the season as Myrtle Beach’s fifth starter and stuck around to finish it as the No. 1 starter. He definitely got better as the year went on and closed out the season on a 24-inning scoreless streak. He runs his fastball up to around 92-94 mph. His changeup, which he throws with good deception, is ahead of his curveball right now.
Asher will likely be in the Frisco rotation to start the 2014 season, joining Nick Martinez, Luke Jackson, and maybe ChiChi Gonzalez to form an exciting group of righty starting prospects. If he follows the normal progression, he could be expected to possibly see major league action by late in the 2015 season.
Asher's ceiling isn't huge -- he's a potential #3/#4 starter if his offspeed pitches develop, and a potential reliever if they don't. But he's one more interesting arm to keep an eye on over the next season or two, someone who could provide rotation depth in the near future, or be quality trade bait at the deadline.