Oakland A’s top prospects 2023: Tyler Soderstrom, Ken Waldichuk lead roster to rebuild A’s

Oakland A’s top prospects 2023: Tyler Soderstrom, Ken Waldichuk lead roster to rebuild A’s

Major League Baseball’s offseason is in full swing, and that means everyone is thinking ahead. In most cities, that means next season; in some, however, it means the big picture, the next three to five years. Either you are selling victories or you are selling hope, the old saying goes. Here at CBS Sports we like to provide as much hope as we can this time of winter by evaluating each team’s farm system.

Of course, that doesn’t mean every team has an equally good farm system; some, as you will discover throughout this process, lack that aspect. However, it does mean that CBS Sports will spend the next few weeks examining the top three prospects in each organization. We define “prospect” as maintaining his rookie eligibility for the 2023 season, so if a young player is missing, that’s probably why.

These rosters and reviews are formed by following conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development types. There’s also first-hand assessment and bias in the mix. Please note that player evaluation is a difficult task and it is okay if you disagree with the rankings. These are opinions, and have no real bearing on the future. You can check our winter top 20 list by clicking here.

With that in mind, let’s do it by looking at the Oakland A’s.

1. Tyler Soderstrom, 1B/C (2023 seasonal age: 21)

Scouts have been very interested in Soderstrom’s bat since he was drafted with the 26th overall pick in 2020. Some evaluators even proposed moving him from behind the plate immediately, giving him a chance to maximize his offensive potential. The A’s clearly didn’t share that view. They continued to play Soderstrom as a catcher, albeit while coaching him at first base. However, with the A’s divvying up Soderstrom’s defensive responsibilities going forward (and Shea Langeliers’ presence on the depth chart would suggest he’s not the catcher he is on most days), the draw here is his offense. He has the opportunity to be a plus hitter who contributes both in average and in slugging. Soderstrom should start the season at Triple-A. He can finish it in the majors.

2. Ken Waldichuk, LHP (2023 seasonal age: 25)

As part of the Frankie Montas return, Waldichuk nearly pitched as many innings down the stretch for the A’s as Montas did for the Yankees. He appeared in seven games, compiling a 4.93 ERA in 34 innings while hitting about 23 percent of the hitters he faced. Waldichuk has a long, Bassittian arm action, but that hasn’t stopped him from throwing strikes throughout his career. His best pitches are a mid-’90s fastball and sweeping slider, both of which racked up puffs in an admittedly small sample size. He also throws a promising changeup and a curveball to keep hitters off balance. Together, that looks like a No. 3 or 4 starter. Waldichuk should open the year in the A’s rotation.

3. Zack Gelof, 3B (2023 seasonal age: 23)

Oakland’s 2021 second-round pick Gelof reached Triple-A in his first full professional season after hitting .271/.356/.438 with 13 home runs in 87 Double-A contests. The selling point here is that he has a wide collection of solid to average solid tools and a patient approach that allows him to draw walks. The drawbacks to Gelof’s game are that he may not have an additional tool besides his speed, and his enthusiasm for consistently working deep on counts resulted in a 27 percent strikeout rate. Add in how Gelof’s arm could play on the light side, and there’s probably more to this than meets the eye.

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