SF Giants MLB draft watch: Catcher Tyler Soderstrom
On the surface, Tyler Soderstrom would be a bit of a risky pick. Soderstrom’s primary position is at catcher, and the Giants already have their heir apparent to Buster Posey in Joey Bart.
The MLB draft is a bit unique in that teams tend to draft the best player available, rather than the best fit for the team. This is due in part to the fact that it takes several years for prospects to develop into major league talent.
Soderstrom is from Turlock, California, and Farhan Zaidi made it a point to reel in more local talent in last year’s draft. The first round could offer Zaidi an opportunity to continue that trend with Soderstrom.
Still, do the Giants need another catching prospect?
The short answer is no, but the old baseball adage is that teams can never have enough catching depth.
Catcher is not the only position Soderstrom plays. Soderstrom, the son of former Giants pitcher Steve Soderstrom, has shown enough athleticism to handle third base as well as the outfield.
This versatility gives Soderstrom options if catching does not pan out as Mike Axisa of CBS Sports notes:
"“…Soderstrom has the athleticism and skill set to play elsewhere on the diamond…His defense is still developing, and if catching doesn’t work out, the outfield is a viable alternative”"
As a catcher, Soderstrom possesses a strong arm and shows off good pop times while limiting the running game. Though, he struggles in terms of blocking and game management.
However, in Farhan Zaidi’s brief tenure, he has shown a preference for players who can handle multiple positions. The value that versatility brings is evident each time the Giants face off against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and players such as Chris Taylor and Enrique Hernandez move all around the field.
Soderstrom brings that versatile skill set on defense to the table.
Since the Giants are a bit light on infield prospects in their system outside of Marco Luciano and Will Wilson, it would be an intriguing experiment to see how well Soderstrom can handle the hot corner.
There is plenty of risk in this experiment if Soderstrom cannot transition to the hot corner or as a corner outfielder. This would limit his upside.
Despite this, the bat is far ahead of the glove and the 18-year-old’s batting practices produces plenty of loud contact:
As the video shows, the catching prospect has an advanced feel for hitting with the ability to barrel balls consistently. Though, he has shown gap-to-gap power as a prep hitter, he displays massive raw power that is likely to translate to the game with modest swing changes to generate more loft.
Similar to Hassell, the left-handed bat is committed to UCLA, so he carries considerable leverage as the draft approaches.
The Giants would need to sway Soderstrom away from his commitment, but the fact that his dad also played for the Giants could be an intangible factor that makes it a good fit for both parties. Though, I like Hassell a bit more due to his overall profile, there are a lot of reasons for the Giants to take the California native, if available.