Today is Thursday, January 29, 2015. It’s almost February, that wonderfully depressing month to everyone except for baseball fans. Football is over, pro basketball hasn’t yet hit its true playoff stride and nobody is dancing yet in college.
But alas we aren’t there quite yet.
Instead, here on January 29, we sit 67 days away from Brewers Opening Day on April 6 at Miller Park. In continuing my countdown series, it’s time to take a look at someone brand new to the organization…
Nevin Robert Ashley is a 6’1″, 215 lb catcher from Indiana by way of Indiana State University. Originally drafted in the 6th round of the 2006 First-Year Player Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Early scouting reports said that Ashley is an average hitter though good defender. He was named as the “Best Defensive Catcher” in Tampa Bay’s system on more than one occasion by Baseball America.
The Brewers have long valued defense (receiving/throwing/game-management) in their would-be back up catchers. Guys like Adam Weisenburger are defense first, and it’s been well-covered just how good behind the plate current MLB-level backstop Martin Maldonado is. Even the offensively plus Jonathan Lucroy is a top notch receiver, though his throwing arm is a hole in his game.
With Ashley, the Brewers get another in a recent spate of MiLB free agents who sign on to catch at a Brewers’ affiliate in hopes of getting a September call-up and making something out of their opportunity. Matt Treanor, Blake Lalli, Lucas May, etc.
Ashley has been doing the same over the past couple of seasons. Following seven professional seasons with Tampa Bay, the now 30-year-old Ashley spent 2013 with Cincinnati’s top affiliate in Durham and was in Triple-A again all season but with the Pirates’ affiliate in 2014.
Still a defensive-minded backstop, Ashley owns a career .235/.322/.365 slash line in 224 games at the Triple-A level. He hasn’t slugged over .379 since his 2007 A-ball campaign in the Sally League with the Columbus Catfish. Ironically, Ashley’s team bested Milwaukee’s Class-A affiliate (the West Virginia Power) in that league’s playoff championship in 2007.
Ashley is behind, of course, Lucroy and Maldonado organizationally but with fellow newcomer (and tomorrow’s profile subject) Juan Centeno likely starting at Class-AAA Colorado Springs this year, Ashley could either back him up or possibly start in Biloxi dependent on what the club wants to do with a guy like Weisenburger.
At this point, Ashley is a guy to be aware of in spring. For the casual fan, that’s probably enough.
You can follow Nevin Ashley on Twitter: @nevin_ashley