Tyler Soderstrom, a 22-year-old top prospect, excited many A’s fans upon his midseason call-up but looked outmatched and not developed enough in his limited chances.
Soderstrom was selected 26th overall out of high school in the 2020 MLB Draft on June 10, 2020.
What were the expectations?
The A’s top overall prospect and MLB’s no. 39 prospect heading into 2023, Soderstrom was projected to break the big league level this season and preview his dangerous bat for years to come. A catcher and first baseman, Soderstrom was expected to add some depth behind everyday starters like Shea Langeliers and Ryan Noda.
Soderstrom was brought up to the MLB level on July 14th, and he struggled out of the gate. Soderstrom recorded just eight hits in 38 at-bats during July, good for a .211 average. He found his power stroke slightly in August with two home runs, but he hit just .128 for the month with strikeouts in just under 1/3 of his 47 at-bats. Soderstrom was optioned back down to Triple-A on August 21 and dominated in Las Vegas, so he was brought right back up on September 1. September was another tough month for Soderstrom as he hit just one home run, two RBIs, and six hits in 36 at-bats, good for a .167 average.
In total, Soderstrom underwhelmed with a .160 average, .232 OBP, and .472 OPS in 125 at-bats while slapping just three home runs and seven RBIs. Defensively, he started eight games at first base, 13 at designated hitter, and eight behind the dish where he caught three guys stealing out of 13.
What went right? What went wrong?
Defensively, Soderstrom already looks the part. While spending time both behind the plate and at first base, Soderstrom recorded just a singular error across 191.2 innings played. Also, just from an organizational standpoint, seeing Soderstrom crack the big league level after just two full minor league seasons and being drafted straight out of high school as a raw talent is very promising to see. Still, he’s far from a finished MLB product.
As is the case with many young hitters, Soderstrom struck out way too frequently. He had 43 strikeouts total amongst his 125 at-bats which is 9% over the already growing league average. Soderstrom most notably struggled with the off-speed pitches as he hit just .037 while whiffing 42.6% of the time. When Soderstrom did put it in play, it was a ground ball 54.2% of the time and weak contact 4.8% of the time while catching solid contact just 3.6% of the time — 2% below league average. To sum it up briefly, not much went right for Soderstrom offensively in his first season of MLB play. He finished with a 35 wRC+, with 100 being the league average.
With Langeliers holding down catcher, Noda holding down first base, and Brent Rooker being the team's DH, Soderstrom likely isn’t an Opening Day starter. The debate will be whether or not the A’s want him as a bench piece come March or if he’ll continue to develop in Triple-A. Either way, expect Soderstrom to get more chances at the big league level in 2024 and those chances will likely dictate how and where he’s used for the entirety of the season. Soderstrom was five at-bats short of the rookie criteria, so 2024 will serve as his official rookie season assuming his use increases. Expect him to build off of his rough 2023 and increase all his offensive numbers as he gains some familiarity and experience at the MLB level.