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Viva El Birdos Cardinals Top Prospects: #26 Tommy Edman

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Breaking down the Cardinals Top Prospects

Kansas City Royals v St. Louis Cardinals
Is Edman the next David Eckstein?
Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Editor’s Note: the red baron has once again written up a very large number of prospects, done a great job on them, and combined them in just a few posts. You can read those posts, including a dozen reports on players who just missed the list by going here. This post contains a write-up of just a single prospect in a perhaps easier to digest form.-CE

#26: Tommy Edman, SS/2B

5’10, 180 lbs; S/R; 9 May 1995

Relevant Stats: 15.5% BB, 9.4% K, 19/22 SB, 151 wRC+ (Short Season)

So, what’s so great about this guy?

I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Tommy Edman represented a very intriguing subset of Cardinal draft picks in Randy Flores’s first go ‘round as scouting director. Polished college players have always been a staple of the Cards’ drafting philosophy — witness Allen Craig, a decade ago, or Matt Carpenter a few years after that — but Edman, along with Jeremy Martinez, still to come on this list, falls into a specific category of polished college bat.

Namely, Tommy Edman is a capital g Grinder, a hitter whose number one trait is absolutely extraordinary plate discipline (in other words, cut more from the Matt Carpenter cloth than that of Allen Craig, who was more of a bet on power potential and the hit tool). Andrew Knizner, the college catcher turned third baseman, who showed up in the just-missed section, is another of these players, and also represents the old Cardinal draft trope of the hitter without a position. Again, think Craig or Carpenter or college catcher Matt Adams.

The good news about Tommy Edman is that while he may not have a completely defined position as of yet, whatever position he does end up playing — and for the record, my money is on second base — will likely be in the middle of the diamond, adding to his potential value. The other good news, of course, is that strikeout to walk ratio listed above.

You’re going to get a lot of David Eckstein comps put on Edman, thanks to his whiteness, his relatively small stature, and that grinding sort of nature, and honestly, that’s not a terrible comparison. However, Edman is a little bigger, a little stronger, a little more patient, and a little faster. In other words, think David Eckstein, only a little bit better in pretty much every way.

The question, of course, will be whether Edman will be able to squeeze every drop from his talent the way Eckstein did, and that question will probably be unanswered for a number of years still. The makeup on Edman, the baseball smarts and determination, seems to be off the charts, but intangibles are so very difficult to get a proper handle on.

Edman could probably stay at short if needed, but given the sudden depth of shortstop prospects in the Cardinal organisation, a second base move is probably in his best interests. His arm fits better on the right side of the infield, honestly. He’s got enough speed and good enough instincts to be an efficient basestealer, can switch hit, should be an above-average defender at second, and has that Carpenteresque approach at the plate. There’s a chance he gets the bat knocked out of his hands at higher levels, and that’s really the biggest question for Edman. He played major college ball and was very successful, and then came into pro ball and performed at State College, but we’ve seen college bats do well in short season only to flop once they move on to tougher competition. Until Edman proves he has the physicality to hold up in full season ball, at least, it’s going to be a bit of a concern.

Personally, I’m betting on Edman to prove he has what it takes. And appearing much higher on this list next year.

Player Comp: As I said, David Eckstein is the one you’ll hear constantly, and not a bad comparison. I’m actually going to reach further back into Cardinal history for one of my personal favourite players of my childhood, the sadly-forgotten (due to playing for some fairly miserable early-90s team), Luis Alicea, a 5’9”, switch-hitting second baseman with a 10.8% career walk rate. Alicea never really found an everyday job in spite of posting above-average wRC+ numbers for most of the early 90s, but a smarter front office in the 2010s would recognise value better.