Shea Langeliers Remains On The Fast Track
When the Braves selected Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers with the ninth pick in the 2019 draft, they declared him their backstop of the future. That future could be just one season away.
This is an important year for the 23-year-old. He hit .255/.310/.343 with two homers and 34 RBIs across 54 games at Low-A Rome in 2019.
The 6-foot, 205-pound Langeliers spent last season at the alternate training site. So this will be his longest minor league season, but he has been on the fast track since the night he was drafted.
The Braves feel Langeliers has “elite” defensive makeup. He threw out 14 of 25 baserunners (56%) in his final collegiate season and 16 of 39 (41%) at Rome. Combining his opportunities during his last season at Baylor and Rome, Langeliers committed three errors in 747 chances.
His ability to manage a pitching staff was praised by older players during his first spring training. It’s the skill that’s developed most since his first college season, according to Langeliers. The offense will come along, the Braves believe, and Langeliers could grow into above-average power.
Langeliers felt his experience at Baylor was invaluable. His physical and mental growth since his freshman year positioned him to become a top 10 pick. That maturity is why he’s expected to quickly climb the ranks.
“My time at Baylor meant a lot to me,” Langeliers said. “All the things they say about going to college—time management, you learn that. You learn how to handle stress, baseball and school. Then you’re in season and you’re worried about a test while you’re focused on trying to beat the University of Texas. So you learn how to balance that."
Braves starting catcher Travis d’Arnaud is 31 and a free agent following the season. In the weeks before big league camps open, the Braves didn't have another veteran backstop on their roster, which could lead to an increased role for another catching prospect, William Contreras.
Langeliers is next in line, and with a strong showing this season, he could earn big league time in 2022.
—Among the Braves’ other intriguing youngsters to follow is slugger Bryce Ball, a 24th-round selection in the 2019 draft who quickly caught eyes with his power. Ball hit .329/.395/.628 with 17 homers and 52 RBIs in his first 62 games with the organization. The first baseman impressed last spring during the exhibition season, and he’ll have the chance to jump up prospect rankings in 2021.
—How about a 28-year-old prospect who could potentially assist the Braves this season? Lefty Phil Pfeifer made strides across three minor league levels in 2019, posting a 2.97 ERA with 10.7 strikeouts per nine innings over 30 games (133.1 innings). The Braves added him to their 40-man roster last winter, and Pfeifer competed for a roster spot before the March shutdown. He spent last season on the injured list.
While there’s limited upside, Pfeifer could still provide value covering innings as a starter and reliever. If he’s healthy, the Vanderbilt product could finally make his debut this season, which would be a nice story.