Not a lot has gone right for the Braves in 2021, but there is a very bright beacon of hope in Mississippi. Former first-round pick Shea Langeliers seemed like a picture-perfect fit in the 2019 draft when the Braves selected him ninth overall, using the compensation pick they received for failing to sign Carter Stewart. I think the Braves are just fine with the way things played out, as Langeliers looks like a future All-Star in AA.
The former first-round pick hit 9⃣ home runs in June, and leads the Double-A South with 13 this season. pic.twitter.com/Twc7wVbuN2
— Mississippi Braves (@mbraves) July 1, 2021
Now, just because a guy has incredible power doesn’t mean he’s automatically ready to move up to the next level. However, Langeliers has shown that the other areas of his game are up to speed to the point that he can make the jump from AA to AAA — one of the toughest in all of baseball. Let’s start with some stuff he will need to work on.
Langeliers has a pretty high strikeout rate at 27.9%, which would be a little more worrisome if he didn’t have a .921 OPS. He is also walking at a 12.1% rate, so I don’t think he necessarily has an issue with patience. He does have three errors and two passed balls on the season, but he is also throwing out baserunners at a 54% clip — nabbing 19 of 35.
Langeliers was drafted partially because of his fantastic defense, and his arm is pretty impressive for a guy his age. According to Baseball Savant, he posted a 1.87 second pop time in a Spring Training game last season. In 2019, which is the last year Baseball Savant has posted, that would have been first in Major League Baseball — edging out JT Realmuto by .02 seconds.
I’m not worried about the errors or strikeouts, Langeliers is doing just about everything else right, and he’s way ahead of his development for a 23-year-old. Catcher is one of the toughest offensive positions to adjust to in baseball, and he has shown that he can handle the bat and duties behind the plate. I don’t think he has anything left to prove in AA, and he should start getting some looks in Gwinnett. With Travis d’Arnaud becoming a free agent this offseason, he could be a candidate to begin 2022 in Atlanta.