Success Continues For Former Eagle: Asher Adds To Pro Resume

Success Continues For Former Eagle: Asher Adds To Pro Resume

The achievements are coming so fast and furious for  former Polk State College pitcher Alec Asher, the 21-year-old Lakelander has had to step back.

In his short career, Asher has lived his wildest dreams from leading the Eagles to their first JUCO World Series in 2012 to being drafted by the Texas Rangers.

Now in his second minor league season with the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, the right-hander has been named an All-Star, earned a Pitcher of the Month Award and faced 2012 Major League Rookie of the Year Bryce Harper.

The success has brought confidence and self-fulfillment, but also greater expectations.

Asher has loved the highs, but he's trying to keep his feet on the ground as he looks at the big picture.

"Lately, I have been putting too much pressure on myself because of the whole All-Star deal," he said. "I feel like I need to throw a perfect game every time. You can't do that. I need to go back to basics. I want to do what I was taught to do and not try to do too much."

Asher is 4-5 with a 3.53 earned run average, but statistics are not what it's all about.

"Wins and losses, even as a starter, even in the majors —  they are pretty much out of your control," he said. "It doesn't mean everything. They look more on your progress and if you are getting better. Do I want to have a good record? Of course I do."

He knows success is measured in many ways.

"I'm absolutely making progress," he said. "Just this year I've made leaps and strides in progress — anywhere from thinking differently as a pitcher and throwing a different pitch and throwing it more often. There's a ton of stuff. I could go on and on."

The Rangers' organization has noticed.

Asher was named the Texas Rangers Minor League Pitcher of the Month for May.

For May, he was 2-2 with a 2.31 ERA. He fanned 39 and walked just nine in 35 innings. He gave up just nine runs.

He was second in the Carolina League in strikeouts and sixth in earned run average. His strikeouts ranked him 16th among all Ranger minor league pitchers in May.

 "It's an honor," he said of the monthly award. "I wouldn't say I was shocked. I didn't know I was having as good a month as I appeared to have. I was lucky enough to pitch well enough in May to get it. It probably won't happen very often."

His All-Star bid meant a trip to San Jose and a lot more attention and fanfare on June 18.

There he pitched with the best from the Carolina League and against the stars of the California League.

While he signed autographs on his own baseball card at the All-Star Game, he tries to remain grounded about his accomplishments.

"It's an honor, just like in any sport or any league — to stand out as a top performer in your league for the first half of the season," he said. "It didn't hit me until I got out there. I realized I was around the guys who might be in the big leagues. It was pretty cool to be around them."

Asher pitched one inning of relief in the contest in which the Carolina League topped the California League, 12-2.

He soaked it all in.

"I had a blast," he said. "It kind of made me feel like a big leaguer, with all the fans and signing autographs and kids running up to you. It was actually pretty cool. It's definitely something I will probably never forget."

Just one week later Asher faced Harper, a 20-year-old sensation in another unforgettable moment.

Harper, 20, a Major Leaguer, was playing for the Potomac Nationals on June 25 as part of a rehab assignment in the minor leagues.

Harper's presence boosted attendance to 8,000 fans for the game in Virginia, a short drive down the road from the Major League home of the Washington Nationals in D.C.

"That's pretty high for the minors," Asher said. "That's the most I've played in front of so far."

Asher was the starter on the mound for the Pelicans.

A hard-nosed competitor, he wanted to face Harper.

He ignored the cheers when Harper's name was announced on the public address system.

Asher went through his routine, while the electricity of the moment was anything but normal.

"I kind of zoned in on the catcher and what I was doing," he said. "I didn't notice much of a difference."

Harper knocked a bloop double off Asher.

However, when the cheering crowd settled down after the hit, Harper was jumping around on second base, trying to distract Asher.

It didn't work.

Asher and the Pelican second baseman worked a risky pickoff move to perfection.

The maneuver that rarely works without a hitch sent Harper to the dugout.

It's a memory any player would be happy to share someday with their children and grandchildren.

"I wasn't going to treat him better than any other player just because he's a Major Leaguer," Asher said. "He was just getting a big lead off second and jumping around like he was going to score. We put on a pick play and it was good timing."

The encounter was fun as well as another learning opportunity for Asher.

"It was kind of cool," said Asher. "I walked him and it kind of irritated me. It was the one thing I didn't want to do. I didn't want to give up a home run that's for sure. Hopefully I'll get another shot at him."

The match-up gave him a taste of what it might be like someday if he continues to collect accolades and improve.

"The ultimate goal is to make it to the bigs (Major Leagues)," he said.

 
Sep 29
Baseball 1:00 PM
vs. State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota
@ Walter Fuller Complex
St. Petersburg, Fla.
Sep 29
Baseball 3:30 PM
vs. St. Petersburg College
@ Walter Fuller Complex
Suncoast Tournament St. Petersburg, Fla.
Oct 04
Baseball 5:00 PM
South Florida State College
Winter Haven, Fla.
Oct 06
Baseball 12:00 PM
Polk State Scout Day
Scout Day Winter Haven, Fla.
Oct 11
Baseball 5:00 PM
at South Florida State College
Avon Park, Fla.
Oct 14
Baseball 12:00 PM
Chet Lemon Juice
Doubleheader Winter Haven, Fla.
Oct 18
Baseball 5:00 PM
at Florida Southern College
Henley Field Lakeland, Fla.

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