While Luke Jackson was hitting 97 as a starter and CJ Edwards was turning heads and being traded, Alec Asher quietly struck out more batters than anyone else in the Rangers system. The big righty with the big nickname handed out 139 strikeouts in his 133.1 innings of work with Myrtle Beach, averaging 9.7 Ks per 9 innings, and only walked a total of 40 batters the entire year.
Asher almost started his professional baseball career as a member of the San Francisco Giants organization when he was selected by the club in the 23rd round of the 2010 draft. He got as far as the pre-signing physical when a bone spur was discovered in his pitching elbow, and the Giants pulled their interest in signing him. Fortunately, even with the injury, the head coach at San Jose College honored the scholarship offer Asher had previously received, and he was able to have surgery for the spur, rehab, and pitch for another two years before his next chance to be selected by a professional team
Drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round of the 2012 draft, Asher finally started his professional career with short-season Spokane in June of that year, pitching in 20 games but starting none. He racked up a K:BB of 50:11 in 35 innings while only allowing 12 runs, including four homers. This strong showing in 2012 and a promising spring training meant that Asher made his full-season debut in 2013, skipping straight from Spokane to high-A Myrtle Beach, and from a relieving role into a starting one. Asher rose to the challenge of this jump in levels and return to the rotation, starting a team-high 25 games with the Pelicans after beginning the year with one relief appearance. He posted both organization and league-leading strikeout numbers in his appearances with Myrtle, and ended the season with a 32-inning scoreless streak.
At 6’4”, Asher has mound presence and length to spare which, paired with easy mechanics, gives him a good chance to be a solid, not-injury-prone rotation mainstay. His height allows him to throw his pitches “downhill,” and his delivery has some deception, making it harder for hitters to pick up on his pitches.
Asher features a low-to-mid 90s fastball that he commands the zone with, though it doesn’t have much movement. His secondary pitches include a solid mid-80s slider, and an 83-85 MPH changeup that will need to be his most improved upon pitch in 2014. In spring training he also showed a slurvy breaking ball from 79-80, though that pitch wasn’t seen in a scouting report from later in the season.
Asher will most likely join a promising rotation in Frisco this season, pitching alongside former Myrtle Beach rotation-mates Luke Jackson and Nick Martinez. LoneStarBall’s enigmatic prospect writer Tepid Participation likens Asher to a “post-Japan Colby Lewis,” the kind of solid pitcher who knows the zone and goes after hitters relentlessly, a comparison easily reached when watching Asher pitch. If Asher can bridge the jump between A+ and AA effectively while improving his off-speed pitches, he could see the majors as early as 2015, and a long term role as a middle-rotation pitcher would not be implausible. If the changeup, in particular, does not improve, Asher could still have a career as a MLB long reliever.