Dan Duquette’s job trying to find marginal upgrades for the Orioles roster is never truly done. He struck on Tuesday afternoon, grabbing right-handed pitcher Alec Asher from the Phillies in exchange for a player to be named later or cash considerations.
Asher, 25, was originally drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round of the 2012 draft out of Polk Community College in Florida. Asher went from the Rangers to the Phillies in the July 31, 2015 trade that brought Cole Hamels to Texas.
It’s a bit of a surprise that a player like Asher is available for such an insignificant trade because he had some modest success at the big league level last season. Or at least, as much as you can be impressed by the results over five starts. They were good, though, as he posted a 2.28 ERA.
One reason the Phillies may have soured on Asher is that he was a bad boy and got himself suspended for 80 games last season. He tested positive for the anabolic steroid dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, which is banned. The suspension kicked in on June 16, so it has been served.
As a pitcher, Asher seems to profile similarly to Tyler Wilson. He doesn’t have much in the way of velocity, averaging only about 90mph on his fastball in his big league action last year. You could probably call him a control artist. His strikeout rate is low but so is his walk rate. His Wikipedia page says he got Tommy John surgery when he was only 14 years old. Wow.
Asher has a minor league option remaining, maybe two. He had his contract selected in August 2015 before making his MLB debut. It seems like he used up an option in 2016 and that’s it. That’s a sign he’s probably headed for the Norfolk rotation as injury insurance for the big league club. The Orioles might also throw him into the mix for a long relief role in the bullpen if he’s outperforming whoever ends up winning that job.
You never know with the Orioles. They might even suddenly decide to call up Asher on April 15 to make the fifth starter spot! That would be a surprise, but they’re plenty capable of surprising us.
The Duquette quote bot deployed to talk about their latest acquisition:
Duquette: "Asher is a solid ML pitcher who our scouts have liked for a few seasons that we believe will help our club this season." #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) March 28, 2017
More Duquette on Asher: "Good size, 3 major league pitches and command of himself and his pitches." #orioles— Roch Kubatko (@masnRoch) March 28, 2017
Asher is 6’4”, so that part, at least, checks out. Whether he actually has three major league pitches is something we will see for ourselves if he makes his way up to the big league club at some point, which, unless he totally bombs, he probably will.
Asher goes onto the empty spot on the Orioles 40-man roster. It’s now full. That means if they add a non-roster player onto their 25-man roster to start the season - like, say, Craig Gentry, who sure seems like he earned a spot - they’ll have to clear room on the 40-man for that transaction.
Our friends over at the Phillies blog, The Good Phight, offered this inside scouting report on Asher:
The legacy of Alec Asher's eyebrows will live on forever, though.— The Good Phight (@TheGoodPhight) March 28, 2017
Looking at the photo at the top of this page again, they do indeed appear to be glorious eyebrows.