Damek Tomscha at-bat for the Melbourne Aces

The Sudden Rise of Damek Tomscha

Four times in a five-year span Damek Tomscha found himself selected by a big-league club in Major League Baseball’s amateur draft. Every time his standing moved up a little bit until finally he was selected in the 17th round of the 2014 draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. He would spend the next six seasons in the minor leagues before the Chicago White Sox franchise eventually released him and ended his tenure in affiliated baseball. The Sioux City, Iowa native found himself at a crossroads thanks to MLB’s ongoing efforts to cull the ranks of the minor leagues.

Tomscha also found himself at a point in time where he needed to seriously consider the future of his professional baseball career. For most, 28 isn’t all that old, but for a prospect who never managed to reach the majors and now finds himself without an affiliated club to call home, it is practically ancient. For that reason, it wouldn’t have surprised anyone if Tomscha decided to call it a career and move on to other ventures. Instead, Tomscha took a deeper dive into the unaffiliated baseball landscape and has since blossomed across two different leagues.

Thanks to the Coronavirus, there was a delay in the multi-position player getting to see action this past season. Eventually, the American Association did kick off their 2020 season, where Tomscha suited up for the Sioux Falls Canaries. He improved across the board to the tune of a .320/.367/.537 slash line in 248 plate appearances. While the Batting Average and On-Base Percentage were slight improvements, it’s really the increased Slugging Percentage that stands out. In his entire career prior to 2020, he had never been able to muster a SLG above .465 in affiliated ball. His 4 triples were a career-high as well, though he didn’t post career-best results in either home runs or doubles.

The above begs the question, what exactly did Tomscha change about his approach at the plate? I wasn’t exactly sure until I got the chance to watch him in action for the Melbourne Aces during the early goings of the 2020-2021 Australian Baseball League season. There he has produced a .342/.357/.737 slash line in 42 plate appearances. He’s also hit 5 home runs, but no doubles or triples. While there is no denying that Tomscha has improved his results, it’s really hard to peg down from stats alone exactly where those improvements are coming from.

Best as I can see, the Aces slugger is really just waiting on his pitch and attempting to get slightly more elevation on the ball. This doesn’t really explain the triples surge in AA, but it does help to explain why he’s hitting more homers but not really more doubles. He’s getting underneath the ball more and as a result, his contact is either clearing the fence or finding an outfielders glove. The other big change I’ve noticed from Tomscha is that he is doing a better job at choosing which pitches to go after. The video I found of him in affiliated ball was of a guy who would take a hack at just about every offering on the plate. In the ABL he’s been more selective and as a result, has been able to get better bat on the pitches that soon found their way out of the reach of any fielders.

I’m not sure if Tomscha has actually figured anything out or if he’s just in a particularly good stretch of baseball. His results are hard to filter through without truly advanced statistics to draw from. That being said, I’m not really too worried about a deeper dive in this case. It’s been fun watching Tomscha send home runs flying in Australia and if he can keep it up during the 2021 unaffiliated baseball season then he will have made himself a player to watch moving forward.

Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Australian Baseball League

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Bill Thompson
Father (human/feline/canine), husband, Paramedic, Socialist, writer Internet Baseball Writers Association of America and Off the Bench Baseball; freelance writer at various online and print publications. Member Internet Baseball Writers Association of America & Society for American Baseball Research.

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