As a kid, he did it on a whim, with little rhyme and less reason. He’d simply walk up to the batter’s box and decide it was time for a random act of lefthanded hitting. But as Tommy Edman approached his high school years, a coach pulled the infielder aside and suggested that switch-hitting could be a trick—or a pursuit.
“If you’re serious about being a switch-hitter,” Edman recalled the coach saying, “you’ve got to fully commit to it.”
So he did.
The result, several years and a successful career at Stanford later, has put Edman on the brink of the majors, and he is likely the next in an ongoing line of utility infielders to find a home on the Cardinals’ roster.
Edman, 23, followed a strong spring training with a .314/.355/.471 start at Triple-A Memphis this season, and seven of his first 21 hits went for extra-bases. At one point, he had as many RBIs (10) as strikeouts (10). In spring training, Edman scored a start against Washington ace Max Scherzer and he prepped for his leadoff at-bat with video and by asking around. The second pitch he saw—a fastball up in the zone—was drilled into to center field for a triple.
Edman impressed with his steadiness at a variety of positions, from shortstop to second base to third. He, second baseman Ramon Urias and shortstop Edmundo Sosa figure to swap starts around the horn in Memphis to be ready for whatever role awaits in St. Louis. The Cardinals have had a revolving door of utility infielders for years, from Aaron Miles to Skip Schumaker to Daniel Descalso to, most recently, Greg Garcia. What they all share is the ability to hit lefthanded and play all over the diamond. Three of the four handled shortstop, like Edman, but being a switch-hitter adds to his uses, and the steadiness in the field is matched by his approach at the plate.
“That’s something that I’ve gotten a lot better at,” Edman said. “I think my approach has definitely gotten a lot better over the course of the past couple of years. It’s about looking for pitches that I’m able to handle, rather than the pitches that might be in the strike zone and other people might be able to handle but aren’t (in) my hot zones.”
— The Cardinals challenged lefthander Austin Gomber to pitch like a “major league starter” at Triple-A, and he responded with an April that earned him the Pacific Coast League’s pitcher of the week award on April 22. Gomber pitched a seven-inning, doubleheader shutout with six strikeouts, and in his first four starts he was 2-0, 3.22 with 22 strikeouts in 22.1 innings.
— Delvin Perez, the lithe, 2016 first-round pick that had loitered at rookie ball, has found some footing at low Class A Peoria. Through his first 12 games, he hit .302/.333/.326. At 20 years old, Perez has entered a defining year for his place on the organizational depth chart and whether he can show the strengths expected.