Tyler Soderstrom is one of the top prep players in this year’s MLB draft class. The prep catcher likely will hear his name called in the first round of the draft, which begins June 10.
Although Soderstrom likely will embark on a professional career this summer, he also is a UCLA commit, giving him two viable routes for the next step in his baseball career.
“I’ve worked really hard to hopefully have two great options in June,” said Soderstrom, a California native. “I’m just looking forward to seeing what happens.”
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound high school senior is a well-rounded catcher, but his top trait is his offensive ability. He has a slightly open stance and incorporates his lower half into his swing. He also has quick hands that generate bat speed, which allows him to consistently barrel up pitches from the left side of the plate.
Defensively, Soderstrom has the intangibles to grow into a respectable defensive catcher. He is athletic and features a strong arm. He also moves well from side to side and has a quick exchange that allows him to quickly release the ball on throws.
Despite Soderstrom’s potential behind the plate, there isn’t a great track record of first-round prep catching prospects who have gone on to have successful major league careers. The last two first-round prep players who have stayed behind the plate in pro ball and accumulated at least a 5.0 WAR are Joe Mauer, who the Minnesota Twins drafted first overall in 2001, and Jason Kendall, who the Pittsburgh Pirates drafted No. 23 in 1992.
With pro teams typically struggling to develop prep catchers and Soderstorm’s profile as an offensive-first player, some pro scouts believe Soderstrom would be better suited to play third base or in the outfield to speed up his development. Although Soderstrom prefers to catch long term, he’s open to playing a different defensive positions, he said.
“I love to catch and know I can catch at the next level,” Soderstrom said. “I’m confident I can play a corner or in the outfield. As long as my bat is in the lineup, I am happy to play anywhere on the field.”
Soderstrom has been immersed in the game of baseball since he was born. His father Steve was the sixth overall pick by the San Francisco Giants in the 1993 MLB draft. He pitched professionally for seven seasons and started three games at the major-league level for the Giants in 1996.
Soderstrom’s brother Tate also is a junior at the University of Arizona.
With his senior season canceled after five games due to the coronavirus pandemic, Soderstrom has worked on refining his skills with his father and brother at Backyard Sports Academy in Turlock, California, which his father owns and operates.
Soderstrom has spent the time working on his baseball skills and weight training. Offensively, Soderstrom has focused on his bat speed and pitch recognition while dedicating time to improving his receiving skills and flexibility on defense, he said.
With his father’s history playing at the game’s highest level, Soderstrom has leaned on him for advice as he prepares for the next step of his baseball career.
“Right now, my dad just helps me stick to my routine and focus on getting better every day,” Soderstrom said. “For me, staying in my routine helps me focus. My dad talks a lot about pushing through when things get tough and continuing to work hard in those times.”
Read a detailed in-depth story on Tyler Soderstrom’s development into one of the top prospects in the country here.
Read more stories on top 2020 MLB draft prospects here.
Dan Zielinski III has covered the MLB draft for five years. He’s interviewed 191 of the top draft prospects in that period, including three No. 1 overall picks. Multiple publications, including Baseball America, USA Today and The Arizona Republic, have quoted his work, while he’s appeared on radio stations as a “MLB draft expert.” Follow him on Twitter @DanZielinski3.