Before the trade deadline, the Braves were plagued by inconsistencies. Atlanta went into Opening Day thinking Cristian Pache was ready to be their everyday center fielder of the future, but struggles at the plate and injuries hampered that approach. Pache is back in Gwinnett, but he has come back strong after a slow start with the Stripers. In addition, catcher has been a mess ever since Travis d’Arnaud went down with a torn ligament in his thumb. With d’Arnaud set to become a free agent, the Braves must find a new everyday backstop, and one is currently bulldozing his way through Atlanta’s farm system.
Cristian Pache in August:
3 Home Runs
He's still only 22 years old, folks.
— SportsTalkATL Jake (@cantguardjake) August 19, 2021
M-Braves catcher Shea Langeliers is on a 16-game on-base streak. Over the streak, he's batting .367 with 5 home runs, 5 doubles, 10 RBI, 7 walks, and 17 runs scored.
He has upped his AVG to .269 on the year.
— Chris Harris (@CHarris731) August 18, 2021
I think the Braves may attempt to start Pache in the majors next season, especially with Ronald Acuña Jr. unlikely to be ready to start the year. However, the Braves still have some options, as they could re-sign a number of guys. Joc Pederson has an option, Adam Duvall has a mutual option, while Eddie Rosario and Jorge Soler are extension candidates. You also have guys like Heredia and Almonte who may be brought back.
Then there’s the situation with Marcell Ozuna, who could return next season, but he will likely be suspended to start the year. Still, it’s clear that none of those guys (except Duvall) are long-term answers. If Pache keeps hitting like this, I’ll be very confident he can get it going in 2022.
Shea Langeliers will NOT start 2022 in Atlanta, but he’s certainly a candidate to be called up at some point if he continues to hit like he does. He’s already throwing out 46% of would-be base stealers, and if his bat continues to come around, he will be a top-five catcher in the league. He could get a Gwinnett promotion at any time, but I doubt the Braves are going to rush him. Still, Travis d’Arnaud is a free agent, and I doubt Stephen Vogt will be back. William Contreras and Langeliers are the future behind the plate.
Players get hot and cold, but two guys that are so important to the future of the Braves finishing strong is massive going into the 2022 season.