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 32, and who didn't get traded. 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-2014. 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 23 this past October. Asher was a 4th round pick of the Rangers in the 2012 draft out of Polk Community College in Florida. 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 spent the 2014 season in AA Frisco, and turned in another solid year. Asher put up a 3.80 ERA in 154 IP, with 122 Ks against just 32 walks, and 18 home runs allowed. Baseball America really liked what they saw from Asher this year, ranking him #13 in the Rangers' system, between Luke Jackson and Lewis Brinson. BA also had him ranked #12 in the Texas League this past season. John Sickels ranked him at 16th in the system (13th if you remove Luis Sardinas, Corey Knebel and Delino Deshields, Jr.), while Kiley McDaniel had him at #23. Jamey Newberg, meanwhile, had Asher at #16.
Asher has evoked physical comparisons to Colby Lewis -- like Lewis, he's a big workhorse-type pitcher who throws strikes and is prone to home runs. He has a low-90s fastball, a slider as his second pitch, and a developing changeup. 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 the type of guy who could become a starter who spends a dozen years in a major league rotation if he keeps developing.
Asher will likely start the 2015 season in AAA Round Rock, although with the potential for a logjam in the rotation there -- the Two Nicks, Chi Chi Gonzalez, Luke Jackson, Lisalverto Bonilla, Jerad Eickhoff, and depth guys like Ross Wolf and Ross Ohlendorf are all AAA rotation candidates as well -- could potentially put Asher back in AA to start the year. However, he's someone who is on the map for a potential callup in 2015 if he pitches well, and should be in the mix for a major league job beginning in 2016.