Tommy Edman was not a flashy pick in the 6th round of this year’s draft. With impressive polish and versatility, could Edman grow to outplay his draft stock?
In every MLB draft, there are two types of picks. Obviously it is more complex than just two categories, but in a minimalist world, most organizations would agree with the following generalization. Teams draft two types of players: polished players with minimal room for improvement (mostly from college), and raw athletes with incredibly high “ceilings.” Needless to say, magnificent players come out of both categories, going on to defy scouting reports and initial career projections. Also, it is worth reiterating that baseball scouting is obviously not this simple; for the purposes of this article, though, the binary categorization is useful.
In the 2016 draft, the St. Louis Cardinals selected two shortstops, one from each of the above categories. Of course, most fans will be familiar with Delvin Perez, a 17-year-old mega talent from San Juan, Puerto Rico. In a league that is becoming increasingly fond of tall, athletic shortstops (Carlos Correa, Corey Seager), the Cardinals are hoping to have found the next big thing. With extreme youth and a history of PED abuse, Perez epitomizes the latter of the two categories listed, a player with seemingly unlimited , mysterious potential.
On the other end of the spectrum, the Cardinals waited 5 rounds before selecting Tommy Edman, a shortstop out of San Diego, California. After three solid years at Stanford, Edman perfectly represents a polished college prospect, poised to make a surprising run through the minor leagues.
In terms of physical stature and raw potential, there is really no comparing Edman with Perez. Specifically, Perez is a wiry 6′ 3″ 175 pounds, with plenty of time to fill out his impressive frame. Edman, on the other hand, is an average 5′ 10″, 180 pounds, creating no sense of awe due to physical ability or room to grow.
While Edman has no reason to brag about raw talent or impressive physical traits, he does have some reason for confidence has he embarks on his professional journey. In a much different way from Rivera, Edman has an extreme experience advantage, arriving in the minors with a background of polished baseball. After three full years of Pac-12 baseball, Edman has experienced solid, advanced pitching week in and week out. Furthermore, Edman has proven an ability to perform under pressure in new, pressurized situations. As a freshman at Stanford, Edman was named the Bloomington Regional MVP, after hitting .417 with 1 home run and 3 doubles.
While his ceiling may be lower than that of Perez, Edman has much reason for excitement going forward. A stellar defensive shortstop, Edman anchored the greatest statistical defense in College Baseball history. With a flashy glove and the ability to switch hit, Edman could plug in to a line up in a multitude of ways.
So far in short-season A, Edman is thriving. To be exact, after 134 at-bats, Edman is hitting .299. Interestingly, Edman has performed above expectations in nearly every offensive category. After hitting .286 at Stanford, with 0 home runs, Edman has already smashed four home runs in the minors (as well as 7 doubles). While his power is still nothing to write home about, such a subtle improvement is extremely encouraging for a prospect said to have zero power potential. On a side note, Edman is currently amidst a 6 game hitting streak.
Tommy Edman hits a 409 ft HR to RF, and the Spikes now lead the Crosscutters 2-1 with two away in the Top of the 5th.
— Justin JHawk Hawkins (@JHawkESPN) July 29, 2016
Obviously, it is far too early to make any definitive claims about Edman. However, subtle improvements to both average and power have made his stock just a little more intriguing. Perhaps Tommy Edman could become more than just a utility infielder. With versatility, increasing power, and polish, Edman should have Cardinals fans everywhere turning their heads.