TCN 2015 Cardinals Prospect #13: Tommy Pham

The outfielder finally remained healthy for an entire season, played well and reached the Majors. Still, the future remains uncertain.

The Cardinal Nation/ Player Profile

School: Durango High School, Las Vegas, Nevada

2014 rank Pos. DOB Ht. Wt. Bat Thw Signed Round
23 OF 03,08,88 6-1 175 R R 2006 16th

Selected 2014 stats

Mem 0.324 0.397 346 63 112 16 10 44 38 81 20 0.391 0.395 0.491 0.886
StL 0.000 0.000 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0.000

Staff comments (individual rankings in parentheses)

Message board community (10): Tommy Pham just made it into the community’s top 10. He drew very different points of view during the process, receiving votes as early as number four, while others did not see it that way.

NigelT suggests that if Pham is in our top ten, one should have mercy on our system. Many of the posts were centered around concerns about Pham’s age, 27 by the time next season begins. Scadder21 believes that age should have nothing to do with prospect ranking, while nbr1hawkeye thinks that Pham is running out of time as a prospect. Pham’s checkered medical history scares MagnoliaCardFan the most.

Cardinalnationhouston believes that Pham should be ranked higher than Stephen Piscotty due to Pham’s ability to play all the outfield positions. - Jeremy Byrd

Derek Shore: In 2013, Pham was able to stay on the field with consistent results long enough to earn a promotion to Memphis and ranked 23rd in our top 40 last winter.

In 2014, Pham showed what he is capable of with a full healthy season at Memphis, where his line was .324/.395/.491 in 104 games - his most since 2010. Pham also slugged 10 home runs and knocked in 44 while showing growth and maturity.

This earned Pham the long-awaited call up. The outfielder made his MLB debut on September 9th as a pinch-hitter, ending in a strikeout. His first major-league campaign ended with six games played and only two at-bats, both of which were strikeouts. But what is important is Pham can now be considered a big-leaguer after a long injury-slowed ride over the last eight seasons.

Everyone knows Pham has a bucket full of tools, as he runs well, plays exceptional defense anywhere in the outfield, can hit for average and power, and his approach has always been good. His talent has always been overshadowed by his injuries but if he can stay healthy, he has a good future somewhere, if not with the Cardinals.

The only real concern is Pham is pretty well blocked by four proven major-league outfielders and especially by one who has the edge in Randal Grichuk. Barring any sort of significant injury or trade, Pham is slated to be back at Triple-A Memphis for the 2015 season while hoping for a repeat of 2014.

Brian Walton (14): I am pretty sure Pham has set a new top 40 resiliency record. This is his eighth year of eligibility for this prospect list. After making his debut at number 39 in 2007 based on his draft position more than anything, he disappeared from the list for three years. Five years ago, he made a comeback, returning to the rankings every time since. He ranked 23rd each of the last two winters after his previous best of 19th in 2011.

As I previewed a draft of my top 40 list with one professional scout earlier this fall, he made an interesting admission when the discussion came around to Pham. “In prior years, you were always the one trying to convince me that Pham would make it,” he told me. “Now that I saw what he did this season, I am the believer. I think you have him ranked too low.”

I agreed with my scout friend that 2014 was quite a turnaround for Pham, especially when remembering he was not even invited to Major League spring camp. While his strong regular season performance cannot be disputed, the clock is ticking more loudly by the day, however. In early March, Pham will celebrate his 27th birthday, an age by which most players have disappeared from prospect discussion.

Coming off our regular-season monthly rankings, I had Pham 18th. In reality, there is not a lot of direct competition. Other than Magneuris Sierra, who is still very green, there are no other outfielders in our countdown between number 28 and the three who will place in the top 10. Since prospect number 24, we have seen just two pitchers. Pretty much everyone in our current group are infielders.

Other than Aledmys Diaz, who is still ahead, I ranked Pham higher than the infield prospects. After all, he not only stayed healthy, he consistently produced at the Triple-A level. After a terrible start in April, he batted .396, .343, .380 and .303 by month, with an aggregate .324 mark before the break and .323 after.

Still, Pham’s MLB future is cloudy. As long as Randal Grichuk and Stephen Piscotty are ahead and with Charlie Tilson coming up behind, barring a rash of injuries, it is difficult to project much Major League time ahead for him.

Specifically, at this point, I expect that Pham’s total time with St. Louis may end up being more like Adron Chambers’ 99 plate appearances than Shane Robinson’s 452 (accumulated over five years).

While it might not be what he wants, there could be worse things in 2015 than Pham tearing up the Pacific Coast League for another season and seeing what transpires in St. Louis.

Our 2015 top 40 series continues: To see the entire list of top Cardinals prospects and remaining article schedule, click here. This includes the top 40 countdown and nine in-depth, follow-up articles. Most of the latter are exclusively for members of The Cardinal Nation.

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