Tyler Soderstrom, (C, 1B), OAK

A top prospect, Soderstrom did very well at the plate in 2021. But which plate will he be defending when he reaches the majors?

Video courtesy of FanGraphs
  • Born: November 24, 2001
  • B/T: Left/Right
  • 6’2″, 200-lbs
  • Drafted by the Oakland A’s in the 2020 MLB June Amateur Draft from Turlock HS (Turlock, CA).

The Numbers

His raw numbers are listed above courtesy of baseball-reference.com. Let’s aggregate by year then focus on the important numbers for minor leaguers:

Soderstrom was drafted in the lost season of 2020, but when he got to play in 2021 he did very, very, very well indeed. Those are ridiculous numbers.

Let’s break it down by month and see if he swung high and low:

Nope. His July was caught short by a back injury that kept him out the rest of the year, but if he had another 58 PA as he did in May and June, I’ll bet his OBP would have crept back into Excellent territory again. This is a kid that gets on base!

Partly he gets on base by metronomic regularity of taking walks. The man wakes up and thinks to himself, “Self, I’m gonna walk 11% of the time this day.” Well, it’s by month, but I’ll bet if I broke it out by week…

Heh, OK, I took a look at the weekly splits and finally it jumped around (23% one week, 12% another week, but you get the idea, the man gets on base by hook (hits) or by crook (walks).

He even stole a couple of bases as a catcher.

He bats as a lefty, and he certainly hits lefty pitchers better. But he gets on base at a .378 clip against RHP, so let’s not get too worried about this split.

The Scouts

Warnings

Is he going to remain at catcher? If he does, this bat will make him one of the top catcher prospects in all of baseball. In 38 games played as a catcher in 2021, Soderstrom threw out 21% of attempted base stealers, and he had a fielding percentage of .985.

In contrast, in the big leagues, Sean Murphy had a fielding percentage of .993 (just under the league average of .994) and a caught stealing rate of 24%.

So the jury is out whether or not Soderstrom should remain at catcher. If he does, he might repeat Low-A to improve his defense. If he does not, then he’s just a 1B prospect with power and OBP, not to be sneezed at, but not the same drool-worthiness of a top catcher prospect.

A back injury for a catcher? Uh oh.

Conclusion

This kid is one of the best hitters in the minors. He’s a top prospect, and has a very good chance of remaining so. When a young batter has a great batting eye, and he has great power, this is the kind of prospect you put your money on (no, I’m not being paid to say that by the endless betting companies overwhelming us with commercials).

So the key for Soderstrom is if the Oakland brain trust decides to develop him as a catcher. For that he needs to work on his receiving skills. He’s only 20, so there’s time to work this out.

At the very least he’ll be a run-producing corner infielder. At the best, he’ll be a catcher prospect to dream on.

The scouts believe. So should we.

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