- Full name Thomas James Pham
- Born 03/08/1988 in Las Vegas, NV
- Profile Ht.: 6'1" / Wt.: 223 / Bats: R / Throws: R
- School Durango
- Debut 09/09/2014
Drafted in the 16th round (496th overall) by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2006 (signed for $325,000).
View Draft ReportWhile Las Vegas has exploded in population, its status as a baseball hotbed has receded a bit in recent years. Pham is the best of a thin crop this year, and ranks as both the best hitting prospect and best pitching prospect in Nevada. Scouts and college coaches are split on which position suits him best, though Pham has been clear in discussions with scouts and the press that he prefers to hit. On the mound, he has more present ability despite his inexperience, showing easy velocity in the 90-92 mph range and a feel for a slider that could be a plus pitch. Offensively, he won't stay at shortstop in pro ball, and his bat may allow him to move either to third, to take advantage of his arm strength, or to second. He reminded one scout of the Diamondbacks' Scott Hairston for his strong frame, the way the ball jumps off his bat--and his seeming indifference to playing defense. He's an above-average runner who can cover 60 yards in 6.7 seconds. Questions about Pham's maturity--he wavered on his college choice, orally committing to Arizona before signing with Cal State Fullerton--should not be enough to drop him out of the first five rounds.
Organization Prospect Rankings
Each of Pham's prior four seasons ended prematurely because of wrist and shoulder injuries--but he finished 2014 in the majors. Pham opened 2014 as Triple-A Memphis' fourth outfielder but surged once given an everyday role. He strikes out too much, chasing pitches out of the zone, but his strength yields solid gap power once he connects. His 20 stolen bases were a career high, and he's still learning to read pitchers' tendencies. Scouts love his defense in center field, where Pham has plus range and average arm strength. His athleticism also allows for wall-scaling, home run-robbing catches. Pham fits the fourthoutfielder profile, and as a 40-man roster member will challenge for that role in St. Louis in 2015.
A collection of desirable tools, Pham hasn't had any trouble sending off sparks of potential every time he's on the field. It's just getting on the field that has been difficult. He has the arm and range for center field, the speed to steal bases and occasional bursts of hitting ability. The skill he hasn't shown is health. In his pro career, Pham has missed time with a wrist injury, several shoulder maladies and the eye disorder keratoconus that requires him to wear special contacts to correct his vision. He had shoulder surgery to end his 2013 season just as he surged toward September callup consideration. Originally a shortstop with an untamed arm, Pham has found center to be a better fit for his live-wire athleticism. He finally earned a promotion to Triple-A Memphis in 2013 with a .301/.388/.521 turn at Double-A Springfield, his fourth season there, and he clobbered lefties for a .328/.392/.522 line. He avoided free agency by signing a two-year deal with the Cardinals for 2013 and 2014. Injuries have kept him in the organization even though he has been exposed to the Rule 5 draft. But injuries have also kept him from securing his place in the Triple-A outfield, until now.
Pham was the consensus pick as the best draft-eligible high school player in Nevada in 2006. Though he pitched fewer than 10 innings in high school, Pham attracted attention on the mound in short stints on the showcase circuit by showing a 90-92 mph fastball and surprising feel for a slider. Scouts and college coaches were split on which position suited him best, but Pham was clear that he wanted to hit. The Cardinals hinted at taking him in the third round, but Pham's agent (since fired) priced him out of the first five rounds. The Cardinals took a flier on him in the 16th round and signed him for $325,000, the same bonus they gave to third-rounder Gary Daley. Pham has the tools to stay at shortstop in pro ball with a plus arm and good footwork. His indifference to improving defensively turned off some area scouts, but his bat should allow him to profile for second base or third if he needs to move. Offensively, he has good bat speed and the ball jumps off his bat. He's an above-average runner who can cover 60 yards in 6.7 seconds. He had four hits in his first game but didn't make many adjustments in his debut and struggled with sprained fingers on his right hand. He still has a higher ceiling than many of the more polished college hitters in the Cardinals system and should anchor the infield at Quad Cities this year.
Best Tools List
- Rated Best Defensive Outfielder in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2014
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2012
- Rated Best Outfield Arm in the St. Louis Cardinals in 2011