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Pham looking to cap long journey with ASG trip

Cards center fielder ranks favorably among NL outfielders in several key categories
MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- A year after breaking out as one of baseball's most exciting players, Tommy Pham now is making a strong bid to complete his decade-plus journey from forgotten prospect to All-Star.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

View Full Game Coverage

ST. LOUIS -- A year after breaking out as one of baseball's most exciting players, Tommy Pham now is making a strong bid to complete his decade-plus journey from forgotten prospect to All-Star.

VOTE: 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot

View Full Game Coverage

Voting for the 2018 MLB All-Star Game presented by Camping World began Friday, and highlighting the Cardinals on the ballot is Pham, their new center fielder and best all-around contributor. Buoyed by an exceptional April after posting a .306/.411/.520 line in his first full big league season, Pham leads the Cardinals in homers, stolen bases, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and advanced metrics such as wRC+ and fWAR.

"It's been one of my personal goals, to represent my team and the National League," Pham said. "To be recognized as one of the best of the half-season, that would be a great accomplishment. That's something I work so hard for, outside of winning. I'd definitely embrace everything about it, given the journey it took to get to where I'm at."

Video: NYM@STL: Pham has four-hit, two-run game vs. Mets

It's the specifics of that journey that make Pham's rise even more impressive. A 16th-round pick in 2006, Pham spent parts of 12 seasons in the Minor Leagues battling a degenerative eye condition before sticking in St. Louis last year. He ranks in the top five among NL outfielders this season in home runs and runs scored, and among the top 10 in steals, OBP, SLG, walk rate, wOBA, wRC+ and fWAR.

"It's not surprising at all the things he believes he can do. I use the word impressive a lot, but I don't know another one to use to describe what he's shown," Cardinals manager Mike Matheny said. "To go through what he went through in the Minors, then put up the kind of season he's put up, it has to have everybody in baseball's attention."

Joining Pham on the ballot are seven-time All-Star Yadier Molina at catcher, three-time selection Matt Carpenter at third base, and outfielders Marcell Ozuna (two-time All-Star) and Dexter Fowler (2016 selection).

Other Cardinals on the ballot seeking their first Midsummer Classic selection are first baseman Jose Martinez, second baseman Kolten Wong and shortstop Paul DeJong.

Video: STL@CHC: Hicks retires Bryant on Pham's sliding catch

Fans may cast votes for starters at MLB.com and all 30 club sites -- on computers, tablets and smartphones -- exclusively online using the 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Ballot until Thursday, July 5, at 10:59 p.m. CT. On smartphones and tablets, fans can also access the ballot via the MLB At Bat and MLB Ballpark mobile apps. Each fan can vote up to five times in any 24-hour period, for a maximum of 35 ballots cast.

Following the announcement of this year's All-Star starters, reserves and pitchers, fans should return to MLB.com and cast their 2018 Camping World MLB All-Star Final Vote for the final player on each league's roster. Then on Tuesday, July 17, while watching the 2018 All-Star Game presented by Mastercard live on FOX, fans may visit MLB.com to submit their choices for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player Award presented by Chevrolet with the 2018 MLB All-Star Game MVP Vote.

The 89th Midsummer Classic, at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C., will be televised nationally by FOX Sports; in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS; and worldwide by partners in more than 180 countries. FOX Deportes will provide Spanish-language coverage in the United States, while ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage of the All-Star Game. MLB Network, MLB.com and SiriusXM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Week coverage. For more information about MLB All-Star Week and to purchase tickets, please visit AllStarGame.com and follow @MLB and @AllStarGame on social media.

Fans do not vote on pitchers, though the Cardinals have several candidates to make the All-Star Game in that category. Most notably, unbeaten starter Miles Mikolas leads the NL in strikeout-to-walk rate, while Carlos Martinez owns a 1.62 ERA across eight starts. Bud Norris and Jordan Hicks have been among the NL's top relievers as well.

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Tommy Pham