Why A's No. 1 prospect is still at big league camp

March 15th, 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.

MESA, Ariz. -- When the A’s announced their latest round of roster cuts on Sunday, one notable name was not included among the list of players optioned to the Minors: .

With just over two weeks left until Opening Day, this is usually the point in Spring Training when teams decide to send the high-profile prospects they invited to big league camp back down to Minor League camp.

Yet, as the A’s trimmed their Spring Training roster down to 41 players, Soderstrom -- Oakland’s No. 1 prospect and the No. 39 overall prospect in baseball per MLB Pipeline -- remains part of the group and continues to receive consistent playing time in Cactus League games.

Questions have lingered about what position awaits Soderstrom in the big leagues. Selected 26th overall in the 2020 MLB Draft as a catcher, the majority of his games came at first base in 2022. For now, the A’s have utilized him as a catcher in all but one of his 12 Cactus League games.

“I think it’s been great for Tyler’s development,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “Having him around [quality control coach] Marcus [Jensen], [former A’s catcher] Ramón Hernández and [current catcher] , I think it’s accelerated his development. You can see his game-calling, his attention to detail behind the plate, the blocking skill. I think it’s great that he’s still here to have that ability to get at-bats.”

Long heralded for his advanced approach at the plate, Soderstrom has displayed that elite bat so far in camp. Through 12 Cactus League games, he’s 7-for-23 (.304) with two doubles, a triple, a homer, a walk and an RBI.

The 21-year-old has certainly earned a fan in Langeliers, who has worked alongside Soderstrom daily in the catchers’ room.

“I got to know him a little bit last year and then stayed in touch throughout the season and offseason,” Langeliers said. “He takes in everything really well. He’s a smart kid. He works hard. Obviously, he can rake, which is always a plus as a catcher. The sky is the limit for him.”

Langeliers previously held the A’s No. 1 prospect mantle before debuting with the club last season, so he knows the pressure that comes with such a distinction. What advice does he have for Soderstrom on handling such high expectations?

“[The] main thing is to just go out there and be yourself,” Langeliers said. “For him, being really good at baseball is not a bad thing. There’s going to be a bigger spotlight on you. People are going to pay more attention to what happens when you play. But he does a good job of that already. He goes out and is himself every day, nothing more than that.”

There isn’t much seasoning required of Soderstrom at the Minor League level. In 191 Minor League games, he’s hit .279/.344/.521 with 88 extra-base hits, including 41 home runs, and 154 RBIs. The expectation is that he reaches the Majors with the A’s at some point in 2023. Does he have a chance to make the team out of Spring Training?

“Anything can happen,” A’s general manager David Forst said in reference to Soderstrom and No. 3 prospect , who is currently playing for Team Israel in the World Baseball Classic. “Those guys have performed in Triple-A. They’ve played in the Fall League. They’re here getting starts in Major League games, so I think it would follow that you hope their opportunity to contribute comes this year at some point.”