Tyler Soderstrom

Tyler Soderstrom, A's top MLB draft pick, signs big rookie contract

Tyler Soderstrom, A's top MLB draft pick, signs big rookie contract

The A’s wouldn’t have drafted Tyler Soderstrom at No. 26 overall if they didn’t think they could sign him.

That’s scientific fact.

The elite prospect was committed to UCLA and asking for significant freight, which was part of the reason why he slipped down to the A’s late in the first round.

The Turlock High product signed a contract worth $3.3 million guaranteed, well above the slot estimation.

The best A’s catching prospect won’t long for work. He will be part of the A’s 60-man player pool, though he’ll be part of the squad not expected for a call-up, according to ESPN. Gaining experience will prove invaluable for a young player worthy of such amateur attention, especially for a high school player.

[RELATED: Projecting A's initial 30-man roster for 60-game MLB season]

The A’s generally don’t venture down those roads -- they generally prefer college players -- which speaks to the value of such a talent.

The A’s soon will complete a 60-man roster loaded with talent, using numbers that will train in Oakland and others in a to-be-determined location.

A's GM explains what sold team on first-round pick Tyler Soderstrom

A's GM explains what sold team on first-round pick Tyler Soderstrom

The A’s saw all the MLB mock draft diehard fans glance at heading into the amateur selection process. They knew Turlock High catcher Tyler Soderstrom was expected to be taken near the middle of the first round, well before their draft slot. Some information suggested their odds might improve.

“I think we knew it was a longshot,” Athletics GM David Forst said Thursday in an interview with Chris Townsend on A’s Cast, “but as it got into the last 36 to 24 hours before the draft, we had good conversations with his agent and felt like it was a possibility.”

That was an intriguing prospect. Soderstrom was someone the A’s valued a great deal after getting to know him well. They normally shy away from taking high school players early, but were willing to make an exception if given a chance.

Forst provided some insight into why that was the case.

“We had him our Area Codes [Baseball underclassman] team last August,” Forst said. “He was coached by our scouts. We saw him play throughout the summer and in big showcases.

“We don’t take a lot of high school kids up top. For us to take a high school kid, we had to know him and his family really well. [West Coast scouting supervisor Scott Kidd] and [Northern California scout] Kevin Mello did a great job getting to know him. I had a chance to meet Tyler and his parents on a Zoom call before the draft and I was really impressed with the family. That’s all the work that goes into a decision like that. We couldn't have been more thrilled that Tyler was there at No. 26.”

The A’s swooped up the semi-local product without hesitation and are expected to formalize terms of his professional contract in the near future.

[RELATED: David Forst says A's have cut, shortened furloughs for amateur scouts]

Soderstrom wants to remain at catcher and the A’s are currently committed to letting him stay there, Forst pointed to another converted catcher as an example of how positional versatility can benefit a strong offensive weapon.

“You do worry about what can happen if the bat is ahead of their positional development,” Forst said. “The guy we point to is Josh Donaldson, who caught in college. The Cubs moved him out from behind the plate after they drafted him because they knew the bat was going to be developing. We did the same thing when we got him. We had him catch a little bit, but we kept third base in the back pocket. Tyler has played some third base. He has played first. In our Zoom conversation, [scouting director Eric Kubota] put the question to him directly. Tyler said, ‘I’m a catcher. I want to catch, and I can do it at the big leagues.’ You don’t want to take that away from a guy who’s as confident as he is.”

A's undrafted free-agent signing tracker: Oakland's 2020 deals

A's undrafted free-agent signing tracker: Oakland's 2020 deals

The MLB Draft looked quite a bit different this year. It was shortened to five rounds from its usual 40 and the new plan would ultimately allow teams to sign an unlimited amount of undrafted players for $20,000 each. 

Here was the breakdown for the A's in those first five rounds:

First round (26): Turlock High School catcher Tyler Soderstrom 
Second round (58): Michigan pitcher Jeff Criswell 
Third round (98): Georgia Tech outfielder Michael Guldberg 
Fourth round (127): Oklahoma pitcher Dane Acker
Fifth round (157): Washington pitcher Stevie Emanuels 

As far as the undrafted players go, the team started the process on Sunday grabbing a big guy out of Wake Forest:

Will Simoneit, C-1B-3B, Wake Forest

While the college season was shortened due to the coronavirus pandemic, but there is nothing short about the A’s latest signee.

[RELATED: How Soderstrom's credits father for homecoming pick]

The 23-year-old was on his way to a strong season before the sports hiatus batting .377 with five doubles and three home runs in 17 games this season.

Simoneit's -foot-4, 235-pound frame may be worrisome when it comes to speed, but for his size, he moves well.

Cooper Uhl, Catcher, Loyola Marymount

In four seasons with Loyola Marymount, Uhl hit .254/.365/.317 with 21 doubles, two homers and 64 RBI.

As a senior, Uhl hit .361 through 16 games when the coronavirus pandemic hit.

Grant Judkins, RHP, Iowa

Judkins with 2-0 with a 2.33 ERA over four starts as a senior. He had an 8-7 career record with a 2.90 ERA in college.

Garrett Acton, RHP, Illinois 

Acton, a reliever, didn't allow a single earned run in 6 2/3 innings this year. The right-hander went 2-3 with a 1.82 ERA over two years at Illinois.