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Oakland A’s Tyler Soderstrom showcasing versatility early

OAKLAND – Oakland A’s top prospect Tyler Soderstrom has been in the major leagues for all of three days, and he has already shown himself to be a versatile talent at multiple positions.

The 21-year-old from Turlock started at DH on Friday, caught on Saturday and is scheduled to start at first base during the Sunday series finale against the Minnesota Twins. 

“I’ll be taking ground balls and doing early work, but it’s the same game,” Soderstrom said. “I’ve been playing first and catching all year.” 

Regardless of where he plays in the field, Soderstrom’s bat is expected to provide some punch to a lineup that has scored a league-low 3.61 runs-per-game and scuffled to a 25-69 record. 

After going hitless in his debut, Soderstrom was 2 for 4 on Saturday in a 10-7 loss. His first hit was an infield single to third base off All-Star pitcher Pablo Lopez, and his second was another single that this time made it into left.

“I didn’t exactly draw that one up in my head for my first major league hit, but you know, they all count,” Soderstrom said, adding that he gave the ball to his father after the game. 

While Soderstrom can handle spot in the corner infield, his long-term position will likely be behind the plate. 

OAKLAND, CALIFORNIA – JULY 14: Tyler Soderstrom #37 of the Oakland Athletics bats against the Minnesota Twins in his major league debut in the third inning at RingCentral Coliseum on July 14, 2023 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) 

Manager Mark Kotsay praised his abilities at catcher on Saturday, and the rookie has already got a solid grasp on the professional pitch communication system. 

“We’ve been using it in Vegas (in the minor leagues), so I’ve got a good hang of it, and pretty much have all the buttons on the pitch com memorized by now,” Soderstrom said. 

Soderstrom’s primary competition for the starting spot is Shea Langeliers, a second-year player who was the crown jewel of the Matt Olson trade.

Still a young player himself, the 25-year-old who is batting .206 with 10 home runs and 33 RBIs said he has learned that catching at the major league level takes more than just a physical toll. 

“Honestly, at the major league level, the toll is more mental than physical,” the 2019 draftee said. “Thinking about scouting and paying attention to everything that’s going on in the game, that’s what kind of gets to you.”

Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Sam Moll #60 and catcher Shea Langeliers #23 celebrate the last out against the New York Yankees in the ninth inning of their MLB game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. The A's won the game 2-1. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group)
Oakland Athletics relief pitcher Sam Moll #60 and catcher Shea Langeliers #23 celebrate the last out against the New York Yankees in the ninth inning of their MLB game at the Coliseum in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, June 27, 2023. The A’s won the game 2-1. (Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group) 

Soderstrom, the youngest catcher in the league at 21 years and 234 days old, agreed. 

“There’s so much more data up here than there is in the minor leagues, so that will be a learning curve for me for sure,” Soderstrom said.

The rookie might be gunning for his job, but Langeliers said he’s willing to help Soderstrom learn the ropes. 

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