Asher Makes Debut with Lehigh Valley

Alec Asher thought that he would be making his first outing with Lehigh Valley on Sunday, but they decided to push him back a day to have him start against Toledo Monday night on the first game of the road trip. After a tough few days, Asher is looking forward to getting back on the mound and showing what he can do.

All Alec Asher has known as a professional pitcher has come as a member of the Texas Rangers organization. He was drafted by Texas in the fourth round of the 2012 Draft and was in their organization ever since. In his four seasons in the organization, Asher put up some consistent numbers, although he has struggled slightly to make the adjustment to Triple-A since arriving there earlier this season.

Asher was commiserating with his buddy Jerad Eickhoff last Tuesday night when the Round Rock Express pulled Eickhoff from his start after just five innings. The two were speculating that Eickhoff was being dealt, when actually, they were both making their exit.

"He came out in the fifth inning, at 50-something pitches and we kind of looked at each other like 'what's going on?' That's when the pitching coach came over and said, 'hey, there's speculation that you could be traded, so we're taking a precaution.' I was like 'wow, man, I'm gonna miss you, dude. This is going to be tough, I might cry.' Little did I know, I was going with him, so we kind of joked about it a little bit," laughed Asher.

The two traveled together to meet up with the IronPigs on Saturday and Asher then realized that he was being reunited with Seth Rosin, who he got to know a little last spring when Rosin was with Texas and the two spent some time together in spring training. Having some familiarity with Rosin and a solid friendship with Eickhoff, made the move to a new team a little easier.

"It kind of makes you feel a little bit better, going with someone. Obviously, going anywhere by yourself is a little hard, but it definitely makes it a lot better when you can sit with them and talk to them instead of just sitting there by yourself and thinking 'I hope these guys like me.'

"I try not to think about it any differently. I'm playing baseball, just a different uniform, different place, so you've just got to go about it like that. You can't really take it any different and let your emotions get to you, so you just go about your business and it's no different than being anywhere else. You don't want to leave the guys you've come up with and stuff, but being traded for a guy like Cole, it's an honor, because of the type of player he is and to be tossed around in the package that goes for him, it's a big deal."

Both Eickhoff and Asher said that they really didn't pay much attention to the trade rumors, but both knew the Rangers were interested in Hamels and there was at least some chance that they could be part of the deal. Even when Asher realized he could be losing a teammate in Eickhoff, he didn't think about the fact that there could be other guys - especially, him - going in the deal.

"Up until the day it happened, you kind of hear 'We're trying to put a package together,' but you never think, 'Oh, it's going to be me.' You just kind of hear it, but you don't really pay much attention to it and you just go about your day. Until it happened, I had really no idea."

Asher throws a two-seem and four-seem fastball that he mixes with a curve, slider and change-up. He focuses on simply commanding his pitches and getting guys out anyway possible, but he has struck out 408 hitters in 430 minor league innings as a member of the Texas Rangers organization.

"I like to pitch off of my fastball, it's probably my best pitch, and then I'd probably go slider as my best secondary pitch and then curveball, change-up. My strength is probably commanding the ball, working off of the fastball, just trying to get guys out. It's the name of the game," he explained.

Asher was born in Florida and was drafted out of Polk Community College in Winter Haven, Florida. For most of his time in the Rangers organization, he pitched in warm weather areas. His first assignment was with Spokane in the Northwest League, but he was there in the middle of summer, so the temperatures were pretty moderate. As the weather gets colder in the Northeast and once he gets to experience next spring's frigid weather, it will be a whole new situation for him.

"I'm from Florida, so I really don't mind sweating. It will be different pitching in cooler weather, but I can't complain about it. It's a lot nicer here [Lehigh Valley] than it is in Texas right now, it's really hot," he said.

After nearly a week of having to deal with being traded, having his pitching routine interrupted and then, having to get acquainted with a bunch of new guys, Asher looks forward to getting back to some sense of normalcy and that all starts tonight with his start in Toledo.

"This has been a hectic couple of days, so I'm kind of excited to get back out on the field and get back to playing," he said. "I'm sure there will be some nerves, being the first start, but getting the first one out of the way you can just go about your business and get back into a routine and just play baseball like you would anywhere else."

For a look at how Asher's debut went, check out our sister site, PhillyBaseballBlog.com.


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