Tyler Soderstrom could be the SF Giants’ first-round pick in the 2020 MLB Draft.
With that being said, catching prospect Tyler Soderstrom has emerged as a popular target for the San Francisco Giants among the many mock drafts that have been published.
Given that scouting and evaluation are being done remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, most mock drafts are just predictions and guesses with not enough substance.
Beyond the first few picks, there is a lot of variability on who might be available when the Giants are on the clock.
Despite these uncertainties, there appears to be a lot of smoke beyond just the mock drafts with San Francisco and the catching prospect out of Turlock High School in California. Keith Law of The Athletic elaborates on that point:
"“The two names that came up with the Giants were [Soderstrom] and Garrett Crochet from the University of Tennessee — college pitcher who throws extremely hard, maybe the hardest-throwing starter in the draft class.”"
The Athletic, Baseball America, and ESPN have all posted mock drafts where the Giants select the prep catcher in the first round.
If the Soderstrom name sounds familiar, it is because the San Francisco Giants originally drafted Tyler’s father, Steve, with the 6th overall pick in the 1993 draft.
Despite this high pick, the elder Soderstrom only had a brief major league career where he posted a 5.27 ERA across 13.2 frames for San Francisco back in 1996. The right-handed hurler continued to pitch in the minor league circuit for the next several seasons before hanging up his cleats for good in 2000.
Nearly 30 years after Steve was selected, Tyler is emerging as a likely first round pick in next week’s draft with the Giants being one of the potential landing spots.
The fact that Soderstrom is listed as a catcher may raise some eyebrows since the Giants have both Buster Posey and Joey Bart as the catchers of today and the future. Plus, the track record for teams drafting backstops out of high school has rarely paid off.
The 18-year-old has some versatility beyond catching, and appears to be putting in the extra work:
The hope is that he can handle the hot corner, but the California native has the arm and athleticism to transition to a corner outfield spot as well.
Despite all this talk about what position he will play, Soderstrom will be drafted for his bat.
For years, the left-handed bat has dominated the high school competition. As a junior, he posted a .450/.565/.775 line with four home runs across 108 plate appearances.
Soderstrom’s senior season was just getting underway when the COVID-19 pandemic hit thereby putting an end to his high school career.
Before the shutdown, he generated a .357 batting average with one home run and one double in just five games.
Though, high school stats are rarely a good barometer of a prospect’s future potential. Daniel Zeilinski III of Baseball Prospect Journal highlights what makes Soderstrom a special hitter:
"“Tyler Soderstrom is a well-rounded catcher, but his top trait is his offensive ability. He has quick hands that generate bat speed, which allows him to consistently barrel up pitches from the left side of the plate.”"
To this point, Soderstrom is still filling out his 6-foot-2 frame and he has added over ten pounds of muscle since the end of his junior season.
While he currently displays more gap-to-gap power, he should have no problem tapping into over-the-fence pop as he matures.
Even so, Soderstrom’s overall offensive profile is extraordinarily advanced for his age:
Baseball teams do not normally draft for need, and a convincing argument can be made that the Giants desperately need to stockpile pitching prospects. Regardless, third base is another area where the team has little depth.
If Soderstrom can stick at the hot corner, then the Giants can potetially fill a long-term need by selecting the left-handed bat.
There are a lot of reasons to draft Soderstrom, and the next wave of Giants prospects still might be a year or two away. Adding yet another talented prospect to the pipeline would bring San Francisco closer to turning the corner on their rebuild.