Tommy Pham

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Tommy Pham
TommyPham752017.jpg
Pham with the Cardinals in 2017
Tampa Bay Rays – No. 29
Outfielder
Born: (1988-03-08) March 8, 1988 (age 30)
Las Vegas, Nevada
Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB debut
September 9, 2014, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
(through August 1, 2018)
Batting average .270
Home runs 51
Runs batted in 149
Teams

Thomas James Pham (born March 8, 1988) is an American professional baseball outfielder for the Tampa Bay Rays of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played for the St. Louis Cardinals, with whom he made his MLB debut on September 9, 2014. Pham bats and throws right-handed, stands 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall, and weighs 210 pounds (95 kg).

A native of Las Vegas, Nevada, the Cardinals selected Pham in the 16th round of the 2006 amateur draft. He overcame a number of injuries and vision impairments related to keratoconus to make his major league debut nine seasons after being drafted. In 2017, Pham became the first Cardinals batter since 1900 to record at least a .300 batting average, 20 home runs, 20 doubles, and 20 stolen bases in the same season.

Early life and amateur career[edit]

Thomas James Pham was born on March 8, 1988, in Las Vegas, Nevada, to Anhtuan, aged 19, and Tawana, aged 17. He is the elder of fraternal twins, comprised with sister Brittany, whose birth occurred two minutes after his. At the time of their birth, Anhtuan was incarcerated, as he would be for most of their lives. He was born in Vietnam to an African American mother and a Vietnamese father, and moved to the United States with his father, mother, brother and sister. Anhtuan excelled at American football but became entangled in drugs and street crime.[1]

Tawana's parents agreed to assist her in raising her twins with the condition that she work. She had not finished high school and got a job as a busser, then as a server. She also got a second job at a bakery. Between the ages of 2 years and ​3 12 years, Tommy wore leg braces; the pediatrician feared that he had contracted rickets. When Pham and Brittany were five years old, Tawana married an electrician named Fred Polk, and they had a daughter named Mercedes.[1]

Pham attended Durango High School in Spring Valley, Nevada, where he played baseball as a pitcher and infielder. As a senior, Pham was named the Class 4A All-State Player of the Year by the Reno Gazette-Journal and a second team All-American after finishing with a .633 batting average.[2][3] With a fastball that reached 93 miles per hour (150 km/h), he drew more interest as a pitching prospect, but wanted to play the field. He originally committed to play college baseball at Arizona before switching his choice to Cal State Fullerton.[4] Ultimately, Pham opted for professional baseball over college after the St. Louis Cardinals selected him in the 16th round of the 2006 amateur draft. He received a $325,000 signing bonus, higher than most players drafted as late as the 16th round.[4]

Professional career[edit]

Minor leagues[edit]

Pham playing for the Memphis Redbirds.

The start to Tommy Pham's professional baseball career has taken a number of detours due to injury. He suffered a broken wrist in 2010. In a 2011 game while attempting to deny a home run ball, he tore a ligament. He played 40 games and batted .294. In early 2012, while diving for a baseball, Pham noticed a pop in his shoulder. The opinion of team doctors was that it was not serious. He continued play but it worsened, and later examination showed a torn labrum, costing him nearly all of the season. After promotion to AAA Memphis Redbirds of the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in 2013, he tore his other labrum. He returned to Springfield after rehabilitation and batted .301 in 45 games.[5] Pham played most of the 2014 season for Memphis, appearing in 104 games, and he batted .324 with a .395 on-base percentage (OBP), .491 slugging percentage (SLG), 63 runs scored, 16 doubles, six triples, 10 home runs (HR) and 44 runs batted in (RBI).[6]

St. Louis Cardinals[edit]

He was called up to the major leagues with the Cardinals for the first time on September 7, 2014.[7]

2015[edit]

He opened the next season with Memphis but missed the first two months with a quadriceps injury.[8] On June 9, Pham hit two home runs and a career-high five RBI against the Iowa Cubs.[9] In his first 24 games after returning from the disabled list, he batted .338 with a .402 OBP, .625 SLG, five home runs and 21 RBI. The Cardinals recalled him to the major league club on July 3, 2015,[8] and he was influential in a 2–1 victory over the San Diego Padres the next day. He doubled for his first major league hit, then, later in the game, pilfered his first stolen base and scored the winning run, his first major league run.[10] On July 5, Pham hit his first major league home run the day after collecting his first major league hit. He hit another double that game, and drove in all three of the Cardinals' runs – also his first three major league RBI – as the Cardinals again defeated the Padres, 3–1.[11]

Pham safe on the pickoff throw as Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto covers

On September 16, Pham tripled and had his first multi-home run game against the Milwaukee Brewers in a 5–4 victory. He had actually homered in three consecutive plate appearances spanning his last at bat previous to the game, September 13 against the Cincinnati Reds.[12][13] In the next game against the Brewers, Pham's line drive ricocheted off the head of starting pitcher Jimmy Nelson. Although Nelson had to leave the game, he was able to walk off the field in his own ability, and a magnetic resonance image (MRI) revealed a contusion. Pham doubled and tripled in this game, giving him six hits and eight RBI in consecutive games against Milwaukee.[14] He homered in a 4–3 win over the Chicago Cubs on September 20,[15] and drove in two of the runs in a 3–1 win over the Reds on September 22. The Cardinals won 100 games and the National League Central division. Pham made his major league postseason debut as a pinch hitter during the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 1 of the 2015 National League Division Series (NLDS) against the Cubs, and hit his first career home run against Jon Lester.[16]

2016[edit]

The Cardinals selected Pham for the Opening Day roster in 2016. However, he injured his oblique in his first at bat on Opening Day, in the first inning versus the Pittsburgh Pirates. Thus, he was the first player following the start of the regular season to be placed on the DL.[17] The club reactivated him from the DL on May 17 and optioned him back to Memphis.[18] His home run on August 2 against the Cincinnati Reds was the Cardinals' 11th pinch hit home run of the season, establishing a new club record.[19]

2017[edit]

Pham did not make the 2017 Opening Day roster out of spring training, and he began the season at Memphis. After batting .283/.371/.500 with four home runs and 19 RBIs in 25 games at Memphis, he was recalled to join the Cardinals on May 5.[20]

On May 7, 2017, Pham homered twice versus the Atlanta Braves at SunTrust Park among producing a season-high four hits. His second home run provided the deciding runs in a 6−4, 14-inning victory.[21] Pham continued to produce both offensively and defensively, and he eventually became the starting right fielder. Through August 12, he was batting .309/401/.498, while leading the club in steals and outfield assists.[22] He finished the season batting .306/.411/.520 with 23 home runs, 73 RBIs, 22 doubles, and 25 stolen bases in 128 games. He became the first Cardinals batter since 1900 to record at least a .300 average, 20 home runs, 20 doubles, and 20 stolen bases in the same season.[23] In his age-29 season, Pham placed tenth in the majors in Fangraphs' Wins Above Replacement (WAR).[24] He ranked 11th in the National League Most Valuable Player Award (NL MVP) voting, the only Cardinals player to receive votes.[25]

Pham's at-times dominant performance frequently conjured the portmanteau "Pham-tastic," from others as well as himself.[24] Pham readily spoke positively of his aspirations and his efforts, believing that he 'can be a really elite player,’[26] and disclosing that he disciplined himself with intense workout regimens and used to technology such as Statcast data to assist in sharpening and increasing his playing skills.[27][28]

2018[edit]

In the aftermath of his breakout season, the Cardinals named Pham their starting center fielder prior to the 2018 season, resulting in 2017's starting center fielder, Dexter Fowler, moving to right field.[29] While practicing between at bats with a batting cage modified with a resistance band Pham had designed on April 25, the band slipped from the bat, resulting in blunt trauma to Pham's head that induced a significant contusion. Manager Mike Matheny removed him from the game.[30] He was not placed on the disabled list, and he returned to action a few games later.

Tampa Bay Rays[edit]

2018[edit]

On July 31, 2018, Pham was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays along with $500K of international pool space for Justin Williams, Genesis Cabrera, and Roel Ramirez.[31] In his second game as a Ray, Pham fractured his foot after being hit by a pitch and was forced to go on the 10-day disabled list.[32]

Awards[edit]

Personal life[edit]

Pham is both of African-American and Vietnamese-American heritage. He is the first person of Vietnamese descent to play in Major League Baseball since pitcher Danny Graves.[34][35] He and his twin sister were raised by their working mother, Tawana, in Spring Valley, Nevada.[34]

Pham suffers from keratoconus, a rare eye disorder which causes degenerative vision problems. It was not until Pham began wearing contact lenses in 2009 that he became able to track pitches to the best of his ability.[36]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Dickey, Jack (April 2, 2018). "Tommy Pham waited forever to make it. Now, he's got plenty to say about his journey". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  2. ^ "Class 4A All-State baseball team". Reno Gazette Journal. June 11, 2006. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  3. ^ Smith, Hubble (June 27, 2014). "Tommy Phan". Vegas Voice. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "Down on the Farm: Tommy Pham". Whiteyball. January 30, 2007. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  5. ^ Bailey, Mike (July 3, 2015). "Stalled but never stopped: The journey of Tommy Pham (part 2)". KMOV.com. Retrieved January 26, 2016. 
  6. ^ "Tommy Pham minor league statistics & history". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved June 28, 2015. 
  7. ^ Goold, Derrick (September 7, 2014). "Motte, Masterson seeking roles in Cards bullpen". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved September 7, 2014. 
  8. ^ a b Langosch, Jenifer (July 3, 2015). "Cards call up Pham, boost outfield depth". MLB.com (stlouis.cardinals.mlb.com). Retrieved July 3, 2015. 
  9. ^ Memphis Redbirds (June 9, 2015). "Career day for Pham leads Memphis to 11–3 win". MiLB.com. Retrieved June 28, 2015. 
  10. ^ Modelski, Kevin (July 4, 2015). "Game blog: Cards snap losing streak, beat Padres 2–1". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved July 5, 2015. 
  11. ^ Brock, Corey; Langosch, Jenifer (July 5, 2015). "Lynn and Pham lead Cardinals over Padres". MLB.com. Retrieved July 5, 2015. 
  12. ^ "Rookie Pham belts Cards past Brewers". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. September 17, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015. 
  13. ^ "Pham homers twice in Cardinals' 5-4 victory over Brew Crew". Fox Sports Midwest. Associated Press. September 16, 2015. Retrieved September 18, 2015. 
  14. ^ Goold, Derrick (September 17, 2015). "Offense backs Lackey as Cards sweep". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved September 18, 2015. 
  15. ^ Goold, Derrick (September 20, 2015). "Cards' win over Cubs could be costly". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved September 23, 2015. 
  16. ^ Sheldon, Mark (October 9, 2015). "Pham, Piscotty join Cardinals' rookie lore: Pinch-hitter homers in first postseason at-bat; first baseman/outfielder goes deep in first playoff game". m.cardinals.mlb.com. Retrieved October 10, 2015. 
  17. ^ Langosch, Jenifer (April 4, 2016). "Cards put Pham on DL, will call up Diaz". MLB.com. 
  18. ^ FOX Sports Midwest (May 17, 2016). "Cardinals reinstate Pham from DL, send him to Memphis". FOX Sports. Retrieved May 27, 2016. 
  19. ^ Langosch, Jenifer (August 3, 2016). "Cardinals reach new heights in pinch power: Club sets franchise record with 11 home runs off bench with Pham's Tuesday blast". m.cardinals.mlb.com. Retrieved August 3, 2016. 
  20. ^ http://www.stltoday.com/sports/baseball/professional/piscotty-fowler-hurt-pham-recalled-from-aaa/article_2427dad3-3ce9-5979-8506-04b3417fd693.html
  21. ^ Bowman, Mark; Langosch, Jenifer (May 7, 2017). "Pham-tastic! Cards win on 14th-inning HR". MLB.com. Retrieved May 7, 2017. 
  22. ^ Hochman, Benjamin (August 14, 2017). "Pham pumps energy into Cards, but his future is hard to figure". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved August 15, 2017. 
  23. ^ Sheldon, Mark; Call, Andy (September 20, 2017). "Cards hit 3 early HRs, cut WC deficit to 2 1/2". MLB.com. Retrieved November 30, 2017. 
  24. ^ a b Leitsch, Will (February 14, 2018). "Top 20 players who will shape NL Central race". MLB.com. Retrieved February 17, 2018. 
  25. ^ "2017 awards voting". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved April 4, 2018. 
  26. ^ "Cards' Tommy Pham: 'I believe I can be a really elite player'". FoxSports.com. January 23, 2018. Retrieved February 17, 2018. 
  27. ^ Langosch, Jenifer (January 26, 2018). "Pham emphasizing speed in offseason workouts: Cardinals outfielder studying Statcast data to 'catch up' to fastest players in game". MLB.com. Retrieved February 17, 2018. 
  28. ^ Hochman, Benjamin (February 6, 2018). "Pham craves hard work and recognition". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved February 17, 2018. 
  29. ^ Goold, Derrick (February 17, 2018). "Fowler says Cardinals made right move for them, for his career". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved February 17, 2018. 
  30. ^ Hummel, Rick (April 26, 2018). "Pham KO'd by his own bat while warming up". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved April 26, 2018. 
  31. ^ Chastain, Bill (July 31, 2018). "Rays get Pham from Cardinals". mlb.com. Retrieved July 31, 2018. 
  32. ^ "Rays' Tommy Pham: Hits disabled list with fractured foot". CBSSports.com. Retrieved 2018-08-03. 
  33. ^ Goold, Derrick (August 12, 2015). "Cards prospect Reyes sweeps 'Tools Triple Crown'". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved August 12, 2015. 
  34. ^ a b Hummel, Rick (July 6, 2015). "Pham making the most of his chance". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved July 19, 2015. 
  35. ^ "Cardinals Promote Tommy Pham to AAA Team". Nguoi Viet. July 10, 2013. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 
  36. ^ Bailey, Mike. "Stalled but never stopped: The journey of Tommy Pham (part 1)". KMOV. Retrieved 19 July 2015. 

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