Giants

Why Tyler Soderstrom to Giants at No. 13 in 2020 MLB Draft makes sense

Why Tyler Soderstrom to Giants at No. 13 in 2020 MLB Draft makes sense

Roll the dice, flip a coin, pick a card. Your guess is as good as mine when it comes to what the Giants might do with the No. 13 pick in the 2020 MLB Draft. 

This isn't like when the Giants zeroed in on Joey Bart with the No. 2 pick in 2018. It's not even like when they took Hunter Bishop last year at No. 10 overall. Simply put, this year's draft is unlike any other.

In a money-saving move as the MLB season is yet to start this year, the draft was reduced from 40 rounds to only five. College seasons were cut short due to the coronavirus, and some high school players in certain areas didn't play a single game. Many scenarios can play out in a normal year by the time the Giants are on the clock for their first of seven picks, but the long list of odd circumstances this time around makes the draft even more of a crapshoot. 

The Giants could buck recent history and take the top pitcher on the board. They have been connected to Oklahoma right-hander Cade Cavalli, a former two-way player, more frequently the closer we get to Wednesday's draft. Tennessee left-hander Garrett Crochet and high school flamethrowers Mick Abel and Nick Bitsko also have been seen as options for San Francisco. 

While the MLB draft isn't one for need, the Giants do have a hitter-heavy farm system. Aside from Seth Corry and Sean Hjelle, the Giants don't have too much upside among their top pitching prospects. President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi also took four right-handed pitchers in the first round when he was the Los Angeles Dodgers' general manager from 2015 to 2018. 

If the Giants do select a hitter in Round 1 for the fifth straight time -- they didn't have a first-round pick in 2016 -- they could accomplish two things: Draft a catcher for the second time in three years, and draft a member of the Soderstrom family for the second time in 27 years. 

On June 3, 1993, the Giants selected pitcher Steve Soderstrom with the No. 6 pick in the MLB draft. On Wednesday, Steve's son, Tyler, a catcher out of Turlock High School, could be taken by the Giants seven picks later. 

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But why would the Giants take a catcher in the first round just two years after grabbing Bart with the second pick in the draft? Let's start with the bat. 

The younger Soderstrom stands 6-foot-2 and weighs 190 pounds, though he recently has been listed as even bigger by some outlets. He was named California's Gatorade Player of the Year, and hit .357 with one home run through five games before his senior season was shut down. As a junior, Soderstrom hit .450 with four homers and a 1.340 OPS.

Throughout last summer, Soderstrom was one of the highest rising prospects in the country. At every showcase he went to against top talent, he created buzz for scouts and hit .364 with 10 RBI over nine games for Team USA on the 2019 18U National Team. While he hit seven home runs over 82 high school games, Soderstrom's power potential calls for plenty more long balls down the road. 

Soderstrom already has a polished swing at 18 years old and a clear plan at the plate. This at-bat with Team USA shows his advanced approach at such a young age.

His bat is what will get him drafted so high, and his defense certainly comes with question marks. The latter brings us to the Bart conundrum, something fans already feel with Buster Posey entrenched behind the dish and Bart on his way. But Soderstrom brings exactly what Zaidi is looking for more often on his roster: Defensive versatility. 

Many evaluators believe Soderstrom will move to third base, a position he split time at in high school. He also has the athleticism to play a corner outfield position, and certainly should be able to man first base. Timing is everything, and it's no mistake that Soderstrom posted a montage on May 31 of himself fielding ground balls.

Zaidi said last August that he wants Bart, who hasn't played anywhere else outside of catcher in the minor leagues and at Georgia Tech, to learn another position. That sure sounds a lot like Soderstrom. 

“It’s always a good idea for a player to have somewhere else they can play to give the manager more options to put them when they’re not catching," Zaidi said to The Athletic's Andrew Baggarly last August. 

[RELATED: Giants passed on drafting Hall of Fame arms twice in '90s]

When Zaidi was the Dodgers' GM, Los Angeles took catcher Will Smith No. 32 overall out of the University of Louisville in 2016. And like Soderstrom, Smith is a lot more than a catcher on the field. He made his MLB debut last season and caught every game he played in. But he also played 58 games at third base in the minors, and 11 more at second base.

Baseball is becoming more and more positionless every year, and it seem inevitable the DH is coming to the NL. The goal is to get as many great bats in the lineup at once. It also is an added bonus to have multiple players who can get in the squat and be a threat at the plate at the same time. Zaidi is at the forefront of new-age thinking in baseball, and Soderstrom seems to fit what he's looking for. 

The Giants also want to protect their backyard as Zaidi and the front office proved by taking Bishop, a former Serra High School (San Mateo) star, one year ago. Going with Soderstrom, who played his high school ball fewer than two hours from Oracle Park, would again keep Northern California's best talent in the Bay Area. From his bat to his defensive versatility, proximity and family history, making Tyler Soderstrom a Giant makes a lot of sense.

Soon, Soderstrom bloodlines once again can turn orange and black through the draft.

Watch McCovey Cove Dave lose two baseballs during Giants-Rangers game

Watch McCovey Cove Dave lose two baseballs during Giants-Rangers game

Global pandemic or not, some Giants fans refuse to give up one of the organization's most unique traditions.

A group of fans has continued taking kayaks out into McCovey Cove, just over the right-field wall at Oracle Park, hoping to snag one of the elusive splash hits off the bat of a Giants slugger.

However, even if the home run comes off the bat of an opponent like Texas Rangers outfielder Shin-Soo Choo, fans will go to great lengths to secure the ball.

[RELATED: Aruba Prime Minister wished Tromp well after Giants call-up]

You can see one of the Giants' more prominent fans, McCovey Cove Dave, jump (or more accurately slide) out of his kayak in an effort to secure Choo's two-run home run. Not only does he not get the home run ball from Choo, but another ball that slips out of Dave's kayak ended up in the hands of a female fan.

As you can see from Dave's Twitter account Sunday, social distancing did not seem to be a priority for those who flocked to McCovey Cove for the final time before a 10-game road trip.

Nevertheless, it's good to see Giants fans trying to make the most of the 2020 season, one in which no fans will be admitted to any MLB games as the league tries to mitigate the spread of coronavirus.

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Chadwick Tromp got text from Aruba Prime Minister after Giants call-up

Chadwick Tromp got text from Aruba Prime Minister after Giants call-up

Chadwick Tromp has had a whirlwind week. The Giants rookie made his MLB debut on Wednesday, got the first two hits of his MLB career on Friday and hammered his first big-league home run on Sunday. Tromp also made history in the process, as he became just the ninth player from the tiny island nation of Aruba to play in MLB.

The young catcher helped the Giants win an important home series against the Texas Rangers at Oracle Park. Following Sunday's loss in the series finale, Tromp discussed the reaction to his promotion to the Giants' active roster in Aruba.

"So when I got called up," Tromp told reporters via Zoom Sunday. "The Prime Minister of Aruba texted me, and also our Minister of Sports also texted me and congratulated me. That was nice, it makes me feel like I'm doing the right thing and moving in the right direction."

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Tromp's first MLB home run was an absolute rocket and came at a critical moment in the game, tying the game up in the bottom of the sixth inning.

He's been in the minor leagues since 2013, beginning his professional career within the Cincinnati Reds organization. Playing just 26 games in Triple-A last season with the Sacramento River Cats, Tromp impressed the Giants' staff enough in Summer Camp to earn a spot on the 2020 active roster once his sore hamstring healed up.

[RELATED: What you might've missed in Giants' 9-5 loss vs. Rangers]

Tromp discussed more of how the people back home in Aruba celebrated his MLB debut following Friday night's game.

"The community back home, they're going nuts, I'm going to be honest with you," Tromp said. "It's crazy, people are celebrating, the whole island is basically celebrating. I love it. We're such a small island and this is very important to them because it puts us on a bigger scale and shows the world that a small island can also do big things in life."

Aruba's population is just over 100,000 total. Along with fellow native and Boston Red Sox infielder Xander Bogaerts, Tromp is representing the island nation with pride in this bizarre 2020 season.