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Athletics' Tyler Soderstrom Makes Progress Behind The Plate



When Tyler Soderstrom arrives at spring training, there will be one big difference:

No one will be debating whether he has a future as a catcher.

“His catching was a major improvement from where we saw him at the alt site (in 2020),” Athletics farm director Ed Sprague said. “It was night and day. He just got with Gabe Ortiz, our catching coordinator. He learned the craft.”

Everything about the 20-year-old’s catching skills improved as he worked his way through the 2021 season,  Sprague said. Most notably, his arm got better.

“When I saw him (in 2020), I thought it would be average at best. By the middle of spring training, he started to throw really well. I would say it is above-average.”

Soderstrom played in just 57 games for Low-A Stockton before going down with a mysterious injury that the doctors struggled to diagnose. He was hit by a foul tip in the collarbone, then as he recovered, his back ached.

Eventually they realized it was an oblique injury, which demands complete rest to heal. Sprague expects that he will be at full strength in March.

During his time at Stockton, Soderstrom batted .306/.390/.568 with 12 home runs.

The bat is what makes Soderstrom special, with a definite plus to plus-plus hitting tool and above-average power potential. The question the A’s may eventually face is not whether he can catch, but whether they want to subject an elite hitter to the rigors behind the plate.

“He’s above-average in strike-zone recognition and pitch recognition,” Sprague said. “The bat is his calling card.”

The 6-foot-2 lefthanded hitter spent nine games at first base, mostly to keep his bat in the lineup. The plan will be to continue to develop him as a catcher and see what transpires.

The A’s selected Soderstrom with the 26th overall pick in 2020, then made him one of the youngest players at an alternate training site. He is the son of former major leaguer Steve Soderstrom, and he grew up in Turlock, in driving range to the Oakland Coliseum.

A’s ACORNS

— The A’s added Todd Takayoshi as their Double-A hitting coach. The Hawaii native has been working in the Reds farm system for the last seven years.

— Franklin Font will take over as hitting coach at Low-A Stockton. Font played and coached in the Cubs organization before managing in France.

Tyler Soderstrom Photo By Dustin Bradford Getty Images

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