The Braves have one of the top catching prospects in all of baseball in their farm system.
The Braves had a lot of really highly regarded prospects available for the taking when they were the ninth overall selection in the 2019, several of which who are still highly regarded prospects with their respective organizations. However, the Braves stuck to their evaluations and selected catcher Shea Langeliers out of Baylor. To say that they are happy with that decision is a bit of an understatement.
Midseason Report Card: When we ranked our Top 30 Braves prospects at midseason in 2021, we had Shea Langeliers as the #5 overall Braves prospect. He has done nothing make him lose that ranking and, if anything, it is likely he moves up when we release our next rankings.
Shea Langeliers 2021 MiLB Stats: .256/.339/.494, 22 homers, 53 RBI, 59 R
What we saw in 2021: Shea made a strong first impression during his pro debut back in 2019 and after a stint at the alternate site in 2020, Langeliers took his performance at the plate up a notch at Double-A. The hit tool was inconsistent to be sure (which is far from unique amongst catchers at any level), but the best news was that he connected for 22 home runs while playing in a home field environment that, generally speaking, suppresses power output. The bar he has to clear offensively isn’t particularly high given his position, but it does look like Shea could be an impact bat behind the plate.
Where Shea impressed us the most, though, was with his work behind the plate which has been his calling card since he was drafted. He moves extremely well while in his stance and is adept at keeping balls in the dirt in front of him. More importantly, he has among the quicker pop times amongst all catcher in minor league baseball thanks to those quick reflexes, an absolute cannon for an arm, and great field awareness. He made a lot of baserunners (he caught 31 opposing runners in 2021) regret their life choices last season and we love Shea’s constant searching for free outs. He has also really improved as a game-caller as well as his teammates and coaches rave about him and his work with the pitching staff and the framing is making big strides.
What to expect in the future: Shea spent the vast majority of the 2021 season at Double-A Mississippi before a late season cup of coffee with Gwinnett. We fully expect him to be at Gwinnett to start the 2022 season with Travis d’Arnaud under contract with the Braves going into next season. This does put the Braves in a somewhat difficult situation given that William Contreras, who is a strong catching prospect in his own right, that may be starting the 2022 season in need of at-bats/starts as well. TdA could definitely benefit from time off during the season, so having Contreras as a regularly used backup in the major leagues while Shea gets a bunch of plate appearances at Triple-A may work just fine. However, there is also a strong possibility in the not too distant future that the Braves will make a choice between Contreras and Langeliers (as much as I long for a Langeliers/Contreras platoon) and one will move on to greener pastures. With his defensive acumen and offensive upside, do not be surprised at all if the Braves decide to give the nod to Shea as their primary catcher for the future.