The Atlanta Braves announced Tuesday that catcher Shea Langeliers and pitcher Bryce Elder had been named as the organization’s Minor League Players of the Year for the 2021 season. The Braves had plenty of options, but Langeliers and Elder turned heads with their play. Langeliers spent the entire season at Double-A Mississippi and was a big part of their championship run hitting .258/.338/.498 with 22 home runs and a 128 wRC+ in 92 games. He was promoted to Triple-A Tuesday and will finish out the final week of the season with Gwinnett.
Langeliers entered the season as a Top 100 prospect by many outlets. There is no questioning his ability as a defender, but his production at the plate is an added bonus and his big season will have him moving up lists heading into next season.
“I think over the course of a whole season the biggest thing that I realized this year is just sticking to your approach, your game plan that you come up with,” Langeliers said of his success. “It’s really easy to waver from that and go away from it in the moment, but at the end of the day, just keeping it as simple as possible.”
Langeliers’ breakout at the plate was a bit unexpected, especially when you factor in Mississippi’s home ballpark. Still, he thinks the biggest strides he made this season came behind the plate in the way he handled a pitching staff.
“I think I’ve grown the most, probably catching, just getting to know the pitching staff,” Langeliers said. “Getting close to the team, knowing the pitcher’s strengths, how they want to attack guys, what’s their go-to pitch. Obviously learning the scouting reports and how to take all that into account, going into a game, playing different teams all year long. It’s kind of overwhelming at first but getting the hang of that makes the game come a little bit slower.”
Elder began the season in High-A and was Rome’s Opening Day starter. He advanced three levels and put up a 2.76 ERA and struck out 151 hitters in 133 2/3 innings combined. He has made six starts for Gwinnett where he has allowed eight runs in 32 2/3 innings.
“I think that we still have a long way to go. It was a good year,” Elder said when asked about his season. “I thank, Shae, I thank Logan Brown and I thank Johnny Mo (Jonathan Morales) who have caught me all year. Obviously without them, the success I’ve had up to this point wouldn’t have been there. I’m pleased with where we are at and we are going to try to continue on that path.”
“Coming into this year I already knew he had it like that,” Langeliers said when asked about Elder. “He’s got the mentality to be a really successful starting pitcher. He’s not afraid. He knows what he’s trying to do. He’s got a game plan every time he goes out there. When he’s on the mound, my job’s really easy just because he knows what he’s doing, he knows how he wants to attack guys.”
The Braves took Elder with the fifth round pick of the 2020 MLB Draft. He was the first player from that class to reach the Triple-A level. He spent part of the 2020 season working at the alternate site before making his professional debut in 2021. Elder is planning to head into the offseason with a similar approach to the one he had last offseason.
“I think the biggest deal is just staying in a fixed routine,” Elder said of his offseason plans. “I feel good at this time of the season. So I’m going to kind of go into it the same way I did last year. As far as pitching goes, I think just continue to make each pitch a little better and not try to do too much. Just do the right things and slowly get better.”