FanGraphs released its Top 100 prospect list for the upcoming season Wednesday and the Oakland Athletics have three prospects who made the cut. Unsurprisingly Tyler Soderstrom tops the list at No. 30 and is followed by left-hander Ken Waldichuk (No. 86) and right-hander Mason Miller (No. 98).
With Soderstrom there is again talk of a permanent move to first base simply because the offensive profile is so good. Soderstrom saw more action at first base last season than he did behind the plate, so it will be interesting to see how the A’s deploy him during the spring.
It’s long been seen as a potential, maybe even an obvious move, due to both Soderstrom’s below-average defense as a backstop, and as a way of protecting his offensive performance from the dings and scratches that are part and parcel with everyday catching. His Trackman data makes clear why his offense is so worthy of this line of development. More than 51% of his contact comes off his bat at 95 mph or higher, and 21.1% of that is hit at a launch angle within the sweet spot range for power production.
They project Soderstrom to be a middle of the order anchor in Oakland soon and we could see him at the major league level at some point in 2023.
Waldichuk saw limited opportunity with the A’s down the stretch after he was acquired from the Yankees. He struggled a bit with his command, but FanGraphs thinks that will even out and that he is still primed for a spot in the middle of the rotation.
He’s shown the ability to induce significant swing and miss across all four offerings, both in and out of the zone, aided largely by his funky arm action. His delivery is freaky loose, particularly in his upper back and shoulders, which we think portends better future command than he’s shown so far in Oakland. He seems the most likely to start the season as the A’s fourth or fifth starter.
Miller battled injury for most of the 2022 season, but showed big fastball velocity at Triple A and during his stint in the Arizona Fall League after his return.
He blew triple-digits at the top of the zone past batters at every stop, with his fastball averaging 99 mph at Triple-A. Miller pairs the heater with a sharp, mid-80s slider and locates both with consistency, good for a combined 50% strikeout rate, while issuing just three walks across 14 innings in 2022. His changeup flashed plus in the Fall League, where he carried that good health and momentum and posted a 10.8 K/9.
They do add that Miller’s delivery is rather violent and with his injury history, suggest we could see him on the big league roster soon, possibly in a relief role.