Soderstrom on debut season, adjustments for '24

January 19th, 2024

This story was excerpted from Martín Gallegos’ A’s Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

For the first time at really any level of baseball, encountered prolonged hitting struggles in his first taste of big league action with the A’s last season.

Receiving the call to the Majors in July as a 21-year-old and rated Oakland’s No. 1 prospect at the time, Soderstrom was unable to carry over his massive Minor League success. Appearing in 45 games, the catcher/first baseman hit just .160 with a .472 OPS, three home runs and 43 strikeouts in 138 plate appearances.

While the numbers were underwhelming in that small sample size, the A’s remain confident that Soderstrom will soon emerge into the special talent he has long been projected to be and hope to see him hit the ground running in 2024. Before that, he participated in the annual MLB/MLBPA Rookie Program earlier this month, discussing his takeaways from his up-and-down debut season and other topics:

Soderstrom on his 2023 season

“It was definitely an eye-opening experience. It was awesome to make the debut. Obviously, it was my dream, so that was pretty sweet. I learned a lot. I thought the defense part of it went really well. I thought I caught well and played solid defense, so that was encouraging. I know that I can hit, so I don’t think that’s going to be a problem. But it was good to go through that struggle, just to understand that, [in the big leagues], they’re not going to make too many mistakes. They’re going to find your weakness and keep attacking it. I think that was good for me to kind of learn that.”

On what he needs to work on

“I’ve made some adjustments this offseason with my swing that I think are going to help me a lot. I’m excited to go to [Spring Training] and show everyone what I’ve changed. I think it’ll be good.”

On participating in the MLB/MLBPA Rookie Program

“There’s a lot of pretty big-name guys that have gone through this program, so I think it’s pretty cool as a young guy to see all the guys that have been through it and have had a lot of success in the big leagues. I think it was cool, too, that the A’s wanted me to do [the program] as well. It’s an honor. We’ve learned from guys who played one year in the big leagues to 10 years just talking about their transition from the Minors to the big leagues. We went over healthy relationships and stuff like that. It’s been good. I’m learning a lot, for sure.”