The A’s have kept an eye on Turlock High School catcher Tyler Soderstrom for some time. They didn’t expect him to be there when they selected No. 26 overall during the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft on Wednesday, yet there he was when they formally went on the clock.
The selection was super easy to make.
“Tyler Soderstrom was one of the top follows on our board coming into the spring, and we’re super excited that things worked out and he got to us,” A’s scouting director Eric Kubota said in a video conference with local media. “We think he’s one of the premier high school bats in this draft, and we also think he has a chance to impact us defensively behind the plate. We’re completely thrilled that things went this way.”
Soderstrom’s offensive acumen was well known. Where he projected to play in the pros was less certain among draft analysts, considering his athleticism and defensive versatility, but Kubota quickly cleared that up.
“I think every scout for the Oakland A’s thinks he’s a catcher,” Kubota said. “First off, he has a strong desire to catch, and that’s more than half the battle when you’re talking about developing as a catcher in the minor leagues. He’s athletic. He has good hands and has an advanced knowledge about the position for his age.
"We have [right-handed starter] Daulton Jefferies, one of our top prospects, actually works out at his dad’s facility and Daulton raved about him as a catcher as well. All the ingredients are there for him to be a very good catcher.”
Soderstrom said he wants to stay behind the plate, despite some experience at third base and an ability to transition to first base or a corner outfield spot. Catcher, more than any other position on the diamond, just suits him.
“I enjoy being part of every pitch of the game. I enjoy being in control,” Soderstrom said. “I’m athletic, and I prefer moving around, always being a part of the game. That’s why I love catching. I have done that since I have been little. And I have a strong arm and like to throw some people out.”
There’s no doubt about his offensive prowess. He hit .450 with a 1.340 OPS in his junior year at Turlock High -- his senior season was cut short because of the coronavirus pandemic -- and starred over nine games with the 18U U.S. national team last summer.
“We saw him a lot last summer, and the comment that came up so often is that the ball makes a different sound off his bat,” Kubota said. “We think there’s a ton of power potential and a lot of upside both offensively and defensively.”
There’s a lot to love about A’s top pick Tyler Soderstrom’s swing pic.twitter.com/8JIZCdrIcj— Dalton Johnson (@DaltonJ_Johnson) June 11, 2020
And there’s signability.
Kubota said the A’s were comfortable they’d lock him up despite a commitment to UCLA. Soderstrom said an agreement on terms of a contract hasn’t been reached, that process is ongoing, and could end up with him being paid above his draft slot.