Braves have history with developing some of the best catchers in baseball with Javy Lopez and Brian McCann. Even some fan favorites like Evan Gattis and Eddie Perez came up through the Braves system. Shea Langeliers has a chance to add his name into the mix.
When Shea Langeliers was drafted in 2019 with the 9th overall pick, it wasn’t the first time the Atlanta Braves took a catcher in the top 10. Going back to 1989, the Braves took Tyler Houston 2nd overall; Dale Murphy was originally drafted as a catcher back in 1974 and was the 5th overall selection. Langeliers is probably be the best defensive backstop the Braves have ever drafted.
Defense is Langeliers calling card. His sophomore year at Baylor he threw out a whopping 69% of base runners. He was still impressive his junior year where he put up a 56% caught steal rate. After getting drafted and placed on the Rome Braves squad, he was tested early and often with 39 stolen base attempts on him in just 42 games behind the plate (He did DH a few games). He also posted a strong 41% caught steal rate.
He’s already a solid framer and if pitch framing is still a thing a couple years from now, Langeliers could establish himself as one of the better ones. His short stocky frame doesn’t hamper him much when getting to balls in the dirt and he does a very good job of blocking.
While Langeliers arm is in elite category with strength and accuracy, something that you may not know about him are his next level pop times. He regularly hits pop times under 1.90 seconds (BaseballSavant.com). To put that into perspective, only JT Realmuto had a pop time under 1.90 seconds in 2019 (BaseballSavant.com). When Langeliers makes it to the majors, he could be posting the best pop times in the majors if nothing changes in his profile.
Run on catcher Shea Langeliers at your own peril ... Now has caught 9 of 16 base stealers this season. Laser throw ends a scoreless fourth for Kettler.#SheaGoodbye— Baylor Baseball (@BaylorBaseball) April 7, 2018
BU 4, UT 2#Elevate #SicUT #SicEm⚾️ pic.twitter.com/3cJ28iitt8
On offense, there’s a lot to like. While he’s not a plus hitter, he does display a nice swing with loft and the ability to square up a ball. He did also hit over .300 in two of his three seasons at Baylor. Langeliers shows good patience at the plate. He’s not a hacker by any means as he maintained a strong walk rate over 9% every season in college and never struck out more than 17%. He shows average power with maybe a bit more to come in time. He hit 10+ home runs every season, which is pretty remarkable since he sat out quite a bit of time his junior year with a broken wrist.
In his 54 games at Rome, he put up a 92 wRC+ and a pretty strong 40% fly ball rate. The affects of the broken wrist were likely sapping his power. It’s so unfortunate we don’t get to see how he would have developed in 2020.
It would have been interesting to see where the Braves started Langeliers on the season. Would it have been in AA with Braden Shewmake? Probably not, but he certainly has the skills to move more quickly than a typical catcher. With Alex Jackson still on the team, there’s almost no chance that Langeliers gets added to the 40 man and called up this season.