Tommy Pham was a high school All-American from the Las Vegas and the number one prep prospecet in the state of Nevada. He hit .581 with 10 HR, 56 RBI’s, and 28 SB as a senior at Durango High School in Las Vegas. He was on his way to Cal-State Fullerton before being drafted by the Cardinals. Pham was drafted in the 16th round but received an above slotted signing bonus of $325,000. “I had a pre-draft deal worked out with the Cardinals,” said Pham, who claimed he turned down a $385,000 signing bonus from St. Louis, which was set to draft him in the third round. I wanted at least third-round money. The Cardinals told me something went wrong with my agent, and I know what he did. He pushed the Cardinals for too much money.”
Pham ended up accepting a similar offer later. He said his mother, Tawana, fired his agent after the mix-up.
He had a fastball that touched 93 and was consistently around 88-91, but rarely pitched his senior year. “I don’t really like to pitch,” Pham told the Las Vegas Review-Journal during his senior year. “I just pitch to try to help out the team. I don’t really know anything about pitching. My mechanics are horrible. I just get on the mound and throw.”
Baseball America had this to say about him before the draft: While 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.
He started off hot at Johnson City, hitting .345 through his first nine games. But some hand problems and other nagging injuries caused his final line to be: .231/.340/.324. That’s a pretty good OBP considering his low BA. He hit for absolutely no power having only 8 doubles and 1 HR. His walk to stikeout ratio was okay at 26/42. He showed his athleticism stealing 12 bases and only being caught 3 times.
Not a terrific debut, but not bad considering he is a big city kid from Sin City moving across the country to Johnson City, TN. Also, he had just turned 18 in March, so even though he denied being home sick, it is hard to believe he wasn’t. This is from the Review Journal, “He’s not homesick, but after every game he has been calling his mom with updates on his progress. “She told me to stop calling every night and call every other night,” Pham said with a laugh.”
I think he showed signs that he could be a special player. I think that he is probably the best athlete in the St. Louis farm system. He has great size, standing 6’2 and weighing 180. I am not sure if he will remain at shortstop. He has the tools to play anywhere on the diamond and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him end up in the outfield.