The Athletics have announced a deal with top pick Tyler Soderstrom. It includes a $3.3MM signing bonus, Jim Callis of MLB.com reports (via Twitter). The San Francisco Chronicle’s Susan Slusser reported yesterday that Soderstrom would sign today and is expected to be added to Oakland’s 60-player pool.
Also going under contract was fifth rounder Stevie Emanuels. The University of Washington righty receives a $400K bonus. With his signing, the A’s have completed all of their draft business.
Soderstrom, a high school catcher out of California, received a bonus that weighed in about $646K north of his slot value at No. 26. Emanuels also went over-slot, with both players getting an extra payout from the cash the Athletics saved in signing second-rounder Jeff Criswell and third-rounder Michael Guldberg to below-slot deals.
The A’s obviously had their eyes on Soderstrom entering the draft. All major draft pundits rated him among the 25 best players available. ESPN.com’s Kiley McDaniel was particularly bullish, grading the youngster as the tenth-best player available due to his promise as a hitter.
While it’s awfully tempting to imagine Soderstrom as a bat-first catcher, there’s concern with his ability to develop defensively while also maximizing his offensive potential. It remains to be seen what course the A’s will take, but most scouts seemingly believe Soderstrom is athletic enough — and sufficiently talented with the bat — to man other areas of the diamond (third base or the corner outfield, most likely).