When Turlock native Tyler Soderstrom slid all the way to the A's at No. 26 overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, the A's jumped at the chance to select the high school star.
The A's proved how badly they wanted to sign Soderstrom instead of seeing him go to UCLA when they signed him for $3.3 million, well over his slot estimation. So far at the A's alternate site in San Jose, the young catcher has been nothing but great.
"We knew that he was a plus bat coming out of the draft, and he’s shown every bit of that," A's director of player personnel Ed Sprague told Bill Moriarity of A's Farm. "He’s very advanced with the bat and is probably the best bat that I’ve seen us take since I’ve been here in my short five years in Oakland in terms of strike-zone discipline and power at a young age.
"He’s been really impressive offensively."
Soderstrom, 18, was named California's Gatorade Player of the Year despite his senior season being cut short due to the coronavirus. He hit .357 with one home run over five games. In his four-year varsity career, Soderstrom hit .373 with seven homers for Turlock High School.
His bat never was the question going into the draft. The sweet-swinging lefty proved in high school, the summer circuit and his time with Team USA that he's an elite hitter with some serious power potential. The question, however, was his defense.
Many believed the 6-foot-3 catcher would have to move out of the squat and over to third base or a corner outfield spot. The A's like him behind the dish, though, and want to keep him there as long as they can. Sprague seems to like what he has seen so far, too.
"Defensively, I only got a chance to watch a little video going into the draft, and that was from last summer, so he’s farther along behind the plate than I was expecting," Sprague said. "Still a long ways to go in terms of refining the position, but he’s done very well."
The A's jumped at the chance at adding Soderstrom when he fell in the draft, and they couldn't be happier with what he has shown thus far.