Tyler Soderstrom's Bat Is Nearly Ready For Oakland
A big decision looms for the Athletics and Tyler Soderstrom, and the folks in Oakland feel no pressure to choose in haste.
After moving quickly through the system, Soderstrom could soon be on the brink of reaching Oakland. The question is what position will he be playing.
“I am comfortable saying he impacts and hits in the middle of a major league lineup,” A’s assistant general manager Billy Owens said. “I envision a Carlos Delgado profile, while others may picture former all-star catcher Terry Kennedy.
"It’s exciting to imagine which glove he’ll eventually bring to the All-Star Game. The production will definitely garner a future invitation.”
Soderstrom has split his time between catcher and first base, showing improvement at both positions. In 2022 he showed exactly the type of bat Oakland is seeking.
After hitting .159 in April, he caught fire and hit .283 for the rest of the season as he moved from High-A Lansing to Double-A Midland. He finished at Triple-A Las Vegas. He pounded 29 homers with 105 RBIs.
“Do you just let a guy like that—a run-producer—take off the (catcher's) gear and produce?” Owens asked. “It’s a legitimate debate. He’s physically capable of handling catcher or first base. It’s about the timetable. When the bat is ready is probably the biggest determining factor.”
The 6-foot-2 lefthanded hitter will come to spring training as a 21-year-old, and the team will determine whether he starts at Double-A or Triple-A. After that, it shouldn't be long before he reaches the big leagues.
The A’s are loaded with catchers, starting with Shea Langeliers in the majors, but Owens does not believe that will make a difference when determining Soderstrom’s position.
“I don't think so, honestly. The most value is if you have have a guy who’s a Terry Kennedy clone, hits .280 and 30 (home runs) as a catcher. That’s a remarkable player.”
If Soderstrom’s bat keeps improving this quickly, he may force his way into the big league lineup and make the decision simple.
— Craig Lefferts moves into the role of assistant pitching coordinator, assisting pitching coordinator Gil Patterson. Lefferts spent the last eight seasons as the minor league pitching rehab coordinator after 12 years as a pitching coach in the Athletics' system.
— Craig Conklin was named manager at High-A Lansing after spending nine years in the organization as a hitting coach. He will be aided by former Stanford star Ron Witmeyer as a hitting coach and Don Schulze as a pitching coach. This will be Schulze’s 18th year with the organization.