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Elephant Rumblings: Top prospect Soderstrom looks to 2023 MLB debut

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Arizona Diamondbacks v Oakland Athletics Photo by David Durochik/Diamond Images via Getty Images

Happy Friday, Athletics Nation!

There’s plenty of disagreement over prospect rankings in general, but little controversy over the general consensus that 21-year-old Tyler Soderstrom is the top prospect in the A’s system. Both the AN community and MLB Pipeline agree that this is the case—as well as that Sodie should be expected to make his MLB debut this season.

The A’s top 2020 draft pick isn’t resting on his laurels as he approaches said debut. He spent much of the offseason honing his hitting skills at the Driveline Baseball facility in Scottsdale, Arizona, with a focus on his bat speed, according to Matt Kawahara at the San Francisco Chronicle.

Soderstrom’s training regimen included swinging bats of different weights and lengths while metrics such as exit velocity and bat speed were tracked for analysis. Soderstrom remarked that these drills have resulted in more consistent performance.

After a slow start to 2022, his first full season in pro baseball, Soderstrom ultimately slashed .267/.324/.501 with 29 home runs as he ascended from High-A to Double-A, and finished out the season in Triple-A.

Of his early 2022 struggles, in which he hit just .185 in 30 games, Soderstrom said that grinding through it was a good growth experience:

“It was good for me to go through the little stretch in the beginning where I kind of learned how to battle through that stuff.”

Tyler went on to say that he feels he is ready to take on big league pitchers today if the A’s need him, and the team’s director of player development, Ed Sprague, also expressed confidence in Soderstrom’s readiness. At the same time, Sprague indicated there was no need to rush.

Perhaps to the chagrin of many AN readers, the A’s seem to remain committed to developing Soderstrom as a catcher, with manager Mark Kotsay indicating that working behind the dish would remain an almost exclusive focus on the defensive side.

We’re seeing lots of new faces this Spring Training, and there is every reason to expect this to continue into the regular season as the New Oakland takes shape. Tyler Soderstrom headlines the marquee. Make us proud this year, Tyler! Good luck—and good health to you.

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