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Future Redbirds Top 25 Prospects for 2015: #7 - Tommy Pham

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Finally healthy in 2014 (edit: dammit, we nearly got through the spring too!) Pham demonstrated some of the promise that's kept nearly everyone involved with the Cardinals organization over the last decade excited.

Tommy Pham
Tommy Pham
Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

Acquired: 2011 Draft (Round 16, #496), Durango High School, Nevada

Birthday: 3/8/1988

Age: 27

Minor League Stops in 2014: Memphis Redbirds (AAA), St. Louis Cardinals (MLB)

2014 Totals:

PA

AVG

OBP

SLG

ISO

K%

BB%

wOBA

390 .324 .395 .491 .167 20.8% 9.7% .386


F-R Grades:

(You can find the primer on the 20-80 grading scale here)

Hit

Run

Arm

Field

Power

55 60 55 55 50



Tommy Pham has always been a tremendous box of tools as a minor league player. If only he could punch a brick and snag an invincibility star for a couple of seasons we might get to see him put them all on display once and for all. Truth is, he'd probably jump, break his hand on the brick, land on a turtle shell, and go hurtling down to the infirmary for half a season. Such has been his luck thus far in the health department.

Staying healthy is somewhat of a skill in itself though and while most of Pham's injuries have been of the Martin-Short-in-Pure-Luck variety, there's a laundry list of players at the big league level that can't seem to avoid the crazy injury bug (Kevin Mitchell being the most famous of those, but Troy Tulowitzki would probably qualify as well) while others literally seem to go almost their entire careers without a single injury bad enough to cause them to miss significant amounts of games (Ripken, Jeter). Seems like it's a long shot that Tommy Pham will ever be healthy enough to count on as a regular, but the tools are good enough to make me think that he's at least a 300-400 PA 4th outfielder for someone and that he might be able to put up significant amounts of WAR in that limited playing time.

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Many have pointed to Pham's .397 BABIP in 2014 as a reason to dismiss his accomplishments, despite the fact that he's never posted a BABIP lower than .333 at any level in which he's snagged 100 PA's in the last 5 seasons in the minors. ZiPS actually projects him for a .333 BABIP this season.

We've seen version 20.14.Pham in beta a couple of times in small samples and in between injuries:

PA AVG OBP SLG ISO K% BB% wOBA
140 .339 .429 .537 .198 20 12.9 .437
166 .294 .372 .517 .224 24.1 10.8 .388
188 .301 .388 .521

.221

22.3 10.6 .400

That's 2010, 2011, and 2013 respectively.  If you add all those seasons together, you end up just short of 500 plate appearances with a wOBA over .400 at the AA and AAA levels -- and that's WITHOUT his 2014 campaign added in.

Did I mention that Pham is a legit defensive CF too?

I just don't think it's fair to dismiss his 2014 given the 5 average or better tools, the approach at the plate, all the missed development time due to injury. Tommy Pham might actually be a Grade A player absent all the injury issues -- sadly, life just isn't fair sometimes.

If there is an issue with the skillset it's the strikeout potential, which could spike considerably in the big leagues as Pham has had swing and miss issues in the recent past. His approach, power, and ability to draw a walk makes this more of a minor concern, at least for me. If you hate streaky players, Pham will probably drive you close to the edge of insanity at times, but you'll also appreciate the raw package of speed and power that Pham brings to the table.

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Note the 415 foot sign on the CF wall during this home run. My brother runs concessions at this ballpark and noted to me over the weekend that the only two guys he's seen drive the ball out of that part of the yard were George Springer and Jon Singleton. That's pretty good company.

Overall, though, the only thing holding him back is the absolute glut of OF talent that the Cardinals have at the top two levels: When you have a Bugatti, Ferrari, Porsche, Camaro, and BWM 5 Series in the garage, it's hard to find a spot for the gorgeous vintage Super Bee that keeps breaking down during Hot Rod Night at the local Drive In.

2015 Outlook:

Pham got dinged up in spring training, so he'll start with Memphis when he returns from injury and likely stay there all summer unless something tragic happens to the three men capable of manning CF on the current major league roster. Given Jay's two year contract, Peter Bourjos remaining year of arbitration, and Randal Grichuk's ascendance coupled with the need to put Stephen Piscotty on the 40 man roster in December, it would seem that Tommy Pham's days with the Cardinals might be numbered -- especially if he ever wants a shot as a regular in the big leagues. If I was a team looking to take a chance on an outfielder, though, this is a guy I'd have on my watch list.

Overall Grade: B