As we discussed last week, there are currently four major catching prospects projected to go early in the 2020 MLB draft: two collegians, in Patrick Bailey and Austin Wells, and two prep catchers, in Drew Romo and Tyler Soderstrom. Bailey was the first player we covered, back in December, with Wells shortly behind him. Last week we covered Romo; this week we’ll complete the group with a look at Turlock, CA prepster and U18 Team USA vet Tyler Soderstrom.
As discussed last week, prep catchers are a risky demographic. In Romo’s writeup, we highlighted the elite defensive skills that help mitigate that risk. Soderstrom doesn’t have Romo’s elite instincts behind the dish, but he comes with a much louder bat and has positioned himself as a potential first-rounder after a huge summer on the showcase circuit, including a starring role on Team USA. If you love a beautiful, balanced lefty swing, Soderstrom is your dude.
Tyler Soderstrom (2020 C, Turlock, CA): Soderstrom showed a consistently balanced swing from the left side with good bat speed and impact off the barrel, driving the ball to all fields and projecting really well for power. #PGNational pic.twitter.com/1XCNU5UOjk— Perfect Game Scout (@PG_Scouting) June 12, 2019
Soderstrom is currently more hit over power but has the frame and the swing to get to his power. The ball really jumps off his bat and he consistently makes loud, hard contact.
Defensively, Soderstrom is a little more of an unknown. He’s been playing second catcher on his high school team and was backing up Drew Romo on Team USA, getting some starts at DH or in the outfield in order to get his bat into the lineup. Soderstrom is athletic and a better runner than the average power-hitting catcher, so if he eventually has to move off the position it wouldn’t be catastrophic. However, there’s reason to believe in Soderstrom behind the dish. He’s been clocked with pop times ranging from 1.85-1.95, which is above-average, and an average-to-slightly-above average arm. Soderstrom, who says he is passionate about playing catcher and loves being in control of the game, is also praised for his soft hands in receiving and ability to frame pitches. He’s spent this season focused on improving his catching, training with legendary coach Jerry Weinstein, manager of the Rockies’ Double-A team.
@tylersode one of MLB top 2020 catching prospects and member of Team USA has an incredible instinct for the position. Here instinctually changes his angle and pre pitch mit movement to reflect the pitch location. Unbelievable hands and approach and rarely misses. pic.twitter.com/D1WLFNcOfr— DNA Catching (@dnacatching) December 21, 2019
High just behind slo-mo gives you a good look at:— Jerry Weinstein (@JWonCATCHING) December 24, 2019
3. Finger position at release
4. Scapular load
5. Posture throughout
7. Throwing arm action
8. Lead arm action pic.twitter.com/d6W9BhV7i6
Soderstrom’s strong summer (say that three times fast) has positioned him slightly ahead of Romo at most outlets, with FanGraphs being the exception (if you recall, they have Bailey, Romo, and Soderstrom 30, 31, and 32). Baseball America currently has him as the 21st best prospect in the draft, just ahead of Romo, and MLB Pipeline is the high outlet on him, listing him at 18, the top catcher in the draft. It’s difficult to envision a scenario where Soderstrom falls to 43, but with new college prospects cropping up every day, it’s not impossible. If Soderstrom does last to 43, his dad Steve will retain bragging rights in the family, having been drafted sixth overall by the Giants in 1993. If Soderstrom doesn’t get drafted highly enough, he might, like brother Tate (Arizona), go the college route; he’s committed to UCLA. However, a team that believes in Soderstrom’s bloodlines, raw talent behind the dish, and ability with the bat will likely snatch him up early enough to make that a moot point.