While outfielder Michael Harris II is the Braves’ top prospect, catcher Shea Langeliers isn’t far behind. The organization has been ecstatic with Langeliers’ development since selecting him ninth overall in the 2019 draft.
A Baylor product, Langeliers won the Hank Aaron Award as the Braves’ minor league position player of the year in his first full campaign in 2021. Langeliers, who turned 24 in November, hit .258 with an .836 OPS for Double-A Mississippi.
When the Braves drafted Langeliers, they lauded his elite defense and burgeoning power. Vice president of scouting Dana Brown, fresh off his first selection in the role, stressed: “We think we can get (Langeliers) here quick to the big leagues.”
The catcher is indeed on the fast track. He had 13 doubles, 22 homers and 52 RBIs at Double-A, continuing his upward trajectory offensively.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Langeliers’ defense is his best asset. He threw out 42% of basestealers, tied for most in the minors. He’s frequently applauded for his work with pitchers, where he says he’s made significant strides.
It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Langeliers made his MLB debut in 2022. The Braves have veteran Travis d’Arnaud and the recently signed Manny Piña to handle backstop duties while Langeliers takes as much time as needed in Triple-A, where he played five games in 2021.
“I’ve grown the most (over the last year) with catching,” Langeliers said. “Just getting to know a pitching staff, getting close with the team, knowing pitchers’ strengths and how they’re going to attack guys, their go-to pitch in an important situation.
“Learning the scouting reports, how to take that into account when you’re playing different teams all year long. It was overwhelming at first, but getting ahold of that makes the game go a little bit slower.”
The Braves believe they’ve found their long-term answer in Langeliers, a plus defender who’s made promising offensive progress. He’s expected to be a foundational piece for future contending Braves teams.
— Switch-hitting outfielder Drew Waters didn’t work his way onto the Top 100 Prospects list. Waters, 23, spent last season in Triple-A, posting a .710 OPS. He struggled to make consistent contact, striking out nearly 31% of the time.
— Harris is the Braves’ top-ranked prospect at No. 46. It’s the lowest the organization’s best prospect has ranked in the preseason rankings since Jose Peraza was the No. 54 overall prospect in 2015. It’s just the fourth time since 2009 that the Braves lack a top 22 prospect to begin the season.
Of course, the team has graduated multiple prized prospects in recent years, many of whom helped the club win the World Series in 2021. Harris is extremely talented and could easily shoot up the rankings over the next year.