Why the A's sent Tyler Soderstrom back to Triple-A

August 22nd, 2023

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.

OAKLAND -- The A’s intentionally decided to call up their top two position player prospects in and Zack Gelof on July 14 as a signal of the arrival of the two players they expect to headline the club’s next era of winning baseball.

Gelof is off to a historic start to his big league career that continued in Monday night’s win over the Royals, but Soderstrom, rated Oakland’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 48 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, has encountered a bit more trouble making the jump to the Majors.

Prior to Monday’s game, the A’s made the difficult decision of optioning Soderstrom back to Triple-A Las Vegas.

“Any time a young talent, especially one with some expectations, comes to the big leagues, you never know how it’s going to go,” manager Mark Kotsay said. “There is no question Tyler was ready for that callup. We got an extended look and a period of time that we felt he was given enough at-bats to evaluate and make a decision.”

In 27 games with Oakland, the 21-year-old catcher/first baseman hit .165 with two home runs, one double, five RBIs, seven walks and 29 strikeouts in 93 plate appearances. Adding in the return of first baseman Ryan Noda, which would have limited Soderstrom’s opportunities for playing time even further, the A’s decided it was best for him to get everyday at-bats again at Triple-A, where he is hitting .254 with 20 homers and an .839 OPS.

“You look at his at-bats and he’s made adjustments,” Kotsay said. “That being said, the lack of results impacts the confidence to a certain extent. Going back to Triple-A, he’ll get an opportunity to go down and show what he’s learned here and have an impact on those guys as well.”

Soderstrom struggled to find his footing at the plate in his first big league stint, but there was an encouraging development in his defense. Carrying the label of “bat-first catcher” since getting drafted 26th overall by Oakland in 2020, the A’s saw improvements in all aspects of Soderstrom’s game behind the plate, particularly his blocking abilities.

“We’re sending him back down and allowing him to get some confidence back,” Kotsay said. “I think it was great for him to be here and get this experience. His next opportunity when he comes back, I think he’ll be better for it. I expect him back.”