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Atlanta Braves select catcher Shea Langeliers with the 9th overall pick

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Top flight catchers don’t come around often. Langeliers has been one of the top defensive catchers since he arrived at Baylor. His defense and the flashes he’s shown with the bat are why he’s the 2nd best catcher in the 2019 draft class.

2019 MLB Draft
2019 MLB Draft
Matt Powers

Shea Langeliers currently profiles as a contact over power hitter with superior defense. He’s been mocked to the Braves quite a bit during the year, so it might not be such a surprise that he ultimately was the Braves pick.

As a freshman, Langeliers really turned some heads when he hit over .300 with 10 home runs. Some think his Sophomore season was a down year where he hit .252 with 11 home runs. However, looking into the numbers a little more closely, he was terribly unlucky with a .263 BABIP. His walk rate went from 10% to 13% all the while his K-rate stayed fairly steady (15.23% to 16.79%). His XBH% jumped from 39% to 54%. All told, his power production saw a big jump even while being a bit unlucky...not to mention he was second in hitting on Team USA with a .346 batting average.

This season, Langeliers got off to a slow start after suffering a broken hamate bone against Holy Cross. He returned almost 2 months later on May 10 and subsequently got stronger as the year went along. His overall numbers weren’t great, but coming back from a wrist injury that’s to be expected. He finished the season with a .311/.376/.484 slash line with 6 home runs. The good news is that he recently had one of the best playoff games ever by a player.

Defense is still Langeliers calling card. He has a plus arm to go with elite pop times in the 1.80’s. To put that in perspective, only 1 MLB player has had an average pop time under 1.90 and that’s JT Realmuto. Also, here’s his caught steal rate by year: 44%, 69%, 56%. Just ridiculous numbers and guys on base really stopped challenging him too. In addition, he’s known for his framing ability and blocking. Langeliers has an insanely well rounded defensive tool set to say the least. So even if he doesn’t hit at all, he’s still valuable as a backup catcher.

Physical Profile

Height/Weight: 6’0”, 190 lbs

Bats/Throws: R/R

Where does he rank?

MLB.com – 10

Baseball America – 9

Keith Law – 12

Fangraphs – 19

Scouting grades

Hit: 50 FV

Power: 45 FV

Speed: 40 FV

Arm: 65 FV

Defense: 60 FV

Future

Catchers are notorious for moving slow through a farm system, so this is a somewhat surprising pick. However, with the lack of premium catchers in today’s game, when one comes along it is wise to snatch them up. Langeliers best case scenario might just be the A’s catching prospect Sean Murphy. Murphy is one of the best defensive catching prospects and is currently hitting .324/.402/.459 at AAA. Murphy dropped to the 3rd round in the 2016 draft due to a broken hamate bone in his left wrist.

As a result, don’t expect to see Langeliers in less than two years like Dansby Swanson and Kyle Wright. And as good as William Contreras might be, his profile is still more on the hitting side as opposed to defense. Contreras is by no means a sure thing either. The catcher position is still a big weakness long term for the Braves and a future of Contreras/Langeliers could be one of great strength.

Video:

Here is Braves VP of scouting Dana Brown discussing the selection of Shea Langeliers.