Bees Bullets: Salt Lake Opens Las Vegas Series Against All-Star Pitcher

Apr 11, 2023, 6:44 PM | Updated: 6:50 pm

SALT LAKE CITY – The Salt Lake Bees will be tested when they face a Las Vegas team filled with MLB potential this week. The Oakland Athletics’ top-three prospects and four of their top five could receive playing time against Salt Lake.

The Bees (5-4, 4th in PCL) take on the Las Vegas Aviators (2-7, last in PCL) in a six-game series scheduled to begin on Tuesday, April 11.

Before they ever have to worry about any prospects, Salt Lake will have to contend with 2022 MLB All-Star starting pitcher Paul Blackburn, who will be making a rehab appearance with Las Vegas as he works back from injury.

The sixth-year right hander and 2012 first round pick of the Chicago Cubs made 21 starts for Oakland in his first all-star season. Blackburn through 111.1 innings in 2023, finishing with a 7-6 record, 4.28 earned run average, with 89 strikeouts and 30 walks in what was by far his most successful season in the big leagues.

RELATED: Jo Adell, Chase Silseth Recognized As Salt Lake Bees Sweep PCL Honors

All prospect rankings are from

Las Vegas Aviators Top Prospects

No. 1 Tyler Soderstrom – Catcher/First Base

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 60 | Run: 40 | Arm: 55 | Field: 45 | Overall: 55

Soderstrom was selected by Oakland with their first round pick (26th overall) out of high school in 2020. The son of former major league pitcher Steven Soderstrom, Tyler was considered one of the best high school hitters in his class.

Advancing three levels from High-A Lansing, through Double-A Midland, Soderstrom finished 2023 with Las Vegas. For the season, Soderstrom hit .267 in 134 games. Soderstrom hit .297 with a pair of homers and five doubles in nine games with the Aviators to finish the season.

Soderstrom has hit .294 with two homers, five doubles and seven RBI in eight games this year.

RELATED: Bees Bullets: Jo Adell Power Surge Leads Salt Lake Bees In Albuquerque

No. 2 Zack Gelof – Second/Third Base

Scouting grades: Hit: 50 | Power: 55 | Run: 55 | Arm: 50 | Field: 50 | Overall: 50

A 2021 Athletics second round pick, Gelof has yet to play in in 2023 but reports have him returning sometime during the series. Gelof played with Israel in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

Defensively, Gelof has transitioned to second base after primarily playing third at the University of Virginia. Though his athleticism is expected to play at either spot, Gelof’s bat is his meal ticket.

Across two levels in 2022, the righthanded Gelof hit .270 with seven home runs, nine doubles and 30 runs batted in. He appeared in 11 big league games during spring training, hitting .32o.

No. 3 Mason Miller – Starting Pitcher

Scouting grades: Fastball: 70 | Slider: 55 | Changeup: 45 | Control: 50 | Overall: 50

Selected by Oakland in the third round of the 2021 MLB Player Draft, Miller made one start in Triple-A in 2022.

A 6’5 righthander, Miller finished 2022 with an 0-2 record but made just six starts after dealing with an injury early in the season. He had a 3.86 ERA in 14 innings pitched.

In his first start of 2023, Miller went 3.2 innings and allowed two home runs while striking out eight for Double-A Midland.

RELATED: Ten Potential LA Angels You Could See In Salt Lake For 2023

No. 5 Jordan Diaz – First/Third Base

Scouting grades: Hit: 55 | Power: 50 | Run: 45 | Arm: 50 | Field: 45 | Overall: 50

A 22-year-old corner infield prospect that signed with Oakland during the 2016-17 international signing period, Diaz made his MLB debut with the Athletics last season. In 15 games, he slashed .265/.294/.327 with three doubles and three runs scored.

In 120 games between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Las Vegas, Diaz hit a robust .326 with 19 home runs and 34 doubles and 83 RBI.

He is hitting .281 through eight games with the Aviators in 2023.

No. 19 Luis Medina – Starting Pitcher

Scouting grades: Fastball: 75 | Curveball: 60 | Changeup: 55 | Control: 40 | Overall: 40

Medina joined the Oakland farm system in 2022 as part of a trade that sent Frankie Montas and Lou Trevino to the New York Yankees last August.

Trevino struggled mightily to close the year. In seven starts with Double-A Midland, the 6’1 righty walked 22 batters in 20.2 innings. He also surrendered a .389 batting average against, finishing with an 11.76 ERA after having a 3.38 ERA with the Somerset Patriots in 72 innings.

Medina has made two starts in 2023. In 6.1 innings he has a 1.42 ERA and has given up just three walks while striking out seven.

Up Next

The Bees are in Las Vegas to take on the Aviators in a six-game series April 11-16. Games one through five in Las Vegas will have an 8:05 p.m. (MT) first pitch. The series’ final game will be a Sunday afternoon matinee with a 1:05 p.m. (MT) first pitch.

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Bees Bullets: Salt Lake Opens Las Vegas Series Against All-Star Pitcher