Tyler Soderstrom played five games his senior season at Turlock High before baseball shut down at every level due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Gyms were closed. Local parks largely were unavailable during the spring.
The star catcher and A’s 2020 first-round draft pick still had unlimited access to an optimal training complex, with the Backyard Sports Academy a few seconds from his house.
“I’m actually pretty lucky that my dad has a sports facility a minute down the road from where I live, with full batting cages and a baseball field,” Soderstrom said Wednesday. “That’s where I spend my downtime. I’m always down there grinding and getting better every day.”
That’s one of the many benefits of being Steve Soderstrom’s son, a fact that’s not lost on his youngest boy. Steve Soderstrom was the Giants’ first-round pick in 1993, and the right-handed pitcher who spent most of his career in the minors with a brief stint in the big leagues has played a big role in Tyler’s baseball development.
The phenom with the powerful bat and an offensive approach beyond his years has turned hard work, great talent and sage advice into the No. 26 overall selection in the 2020 MLB Draft. Steve and Tyler become just the 10th father-son duo to be selected in the first round.
The 2019-20 Gatorade California Baseball Player of the Year was considered a steal by many when the A’s took him, armed with an excellent combination of size, skill and upside.
Tyler was quick to credit his father for refining his talents and getting him ready for this draft.
“My dad has been there for me since Day 1,” Tyler Soderstrom said. “He does anything I ask of him and is there for any question I need answered, and he has been that way since I started playing baseball. He helps me with the mental part of the game. I’m super blessed to have him as my father.”
Steve and Tyler both spoke with the A’s during the pre-draft process via a Zoom video conference call. Having his dad as a sounding board about the experience of being a high draft pick and the expectations that come with it, plus the grind of the minor-league experience, should be invaluable as he progresses through the A’s system.
Having a father who was a pitcher can be key for a catcher because they can talk strategy on both ends. That’s something Tyler took full advantage of growing up.
“It has helped me a lot,” Soderstrom said. “We have talked about game calling and game management. We have talked about pitch selection and pitch sequences and what to do in different counts. He has really helped that part of my game, but has helped a ton with my hitting, too.”
It also might help in dealing with the media. As someone who grew up roughly hours east of the Bay Area, Tyler Soderstrom was asked if he grew up a fan of the Giants or A’s. The answer was predictable considering his father’s playing career, but the 18-year old still answered it perfectly.
“I didn’t really grow up with either team,” Soderstrom said. “I just enjoy watching baseball. I leaned toward the Giants because my dad played for them but now that the A’s have selected me, it’s pretty easy for me to jump ship."