Tommy Pham, a 18 year old drafted out of Durango High School in Las Vegas, Nevada in the 16th round by the St. Louis Cardinals. You could be forgiven for never hearing his name before now, it’s been a long road for the now phenom.
Pham was never known for his skills in the minor leagues, but rather his injuries. When he was promoted to the Palm Beach Cardinals in 2009, after hitting .203 the year before in Mid A ball. Speed ahead 3 months and he hit the DL, the first in a long line of injury stents. He went on the disabled list seven times before first reaching the Big Leagues in 2014. 2014 was really his breakout year in the minor leagues, batting .301 with 12 homers in 118 games. I say “breakout” in that while the numbers were solid but unspectacular, it was only his second time in his 9 years in the minors where he hit over 10 bombs.
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Pham would go on to have a whole 2 plate appearances in 2014, going hitless both times. Coming out of Spring Training in 2015, Pham found himself on the DL once again with a Strained left quad that would take him out for over 60 days. When he came back June 5th, he was on the bus back to Memphis. He bounced back and forth between Memphis and St. Louis the rest of the year, creaming Triple A pitching to the tune of a .327 average and a .901 OPS. In 2017, Tommy Pham was a 27 year old who had played 58 games of Major League ball. Further than many of his fellow minor league players, but time seemed to be running out. Making the team out of Spring Training in 2016, the Left Quad once again proved to be an issue. Pham found himself on the DL once again that April 4th. No one would have said a second word if the Cardinals moved on from a 28 year old “prospect” with a lengthy injury history. It would be forgiven if Tommy Pham had a defeatist attitude at this point in his career, having spent around one third of his life chasing his dream, with each barrier seeming harder to jump over. Pham did make it back to the Major League Club in 2016, managing a whimpering .226 average with 9 home runs in 78 games.
Coming into Spring Training in 2017, it seemed to be the last chance for Pham to prove he could bring it with the big boys. His disaster of a Spring Training landed him back in the all too familiar environment of Memphis, Tennessee. He had played with the Memphis Redbirds off an on since 2013. Newcomers Harrison Bader and Jose Martinez lit up Spring Training and catapulted over Pham in the eyes of the Cardinals. After only 25 games in Memphis, Pham found himself once again with the Big Club on May 5th and hasn’t looked back. From May 5th to August 24th, Pham has played in 97 games, crushing 16 home runs while mixing in speed with 17 steals. His .305 average and .899 OPS make him an everyday player in the confines of Busch Stadium. The Cardinals recently played the Pirates in Williamsburg during the Little League World Series. Tommy Pham not only ordered 200 snowcones for kids at the LLWS, but he also sported shoes that were colored by cancer patients.
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His work off the field is matched by his will to succeed on it. If you talked to Pham, you would see his work effort. He once hit the game winning hit, but was upset with his performance because of striking out three times that day. It seems Tommy Pham is finally here to stay, not bad for a kid who’s been through so much the last eleven years of his life.
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