Braves’ long-term outlook at each position: Catcher

MLB Pipeline

We are now smack-dab in the middle of February, and the end of the lockout looks nowhere closer than it did a couple of months ago. It’s a shame, but a delayed season is inevitable at this point, and it’s even possible that the season is shortened altogether. Let’s hope that isn’t the case, but until we can talk about something else, I thought it would be fun to look at the Braves’ long-term outlook at each position, beginning with one of the most important positions on the diamond — catcher.

Travis d’Arnaud & Manny Piña

Once Travis d’Arnaud went down with a torn ligament in his hand, catcher was an overwhelmingly sore spot for the Braves. Kevan Smith and Stephen Vogt — two guys who weren’t even in the organization before the start of the season — wound up catching most of the games for Brian Snitker‘s club. It was a total disaster, so much so that Alex Anthopoulos ensured it wouldn’t be an issue moving forward. Not only did he offer d’Arnaud an extension, but he also signed Manny Piña for the next two seasons with an option in year three. Those two should give the Braves a lot of confidence in the position, and they have a couple of prospects on the way that should make them feel even better.

Shea Langeliers & William Contreras

Let me start with Shea Langeliers, who I have as the top prospect in the Braves’ organization. He may not be as flashy as Michael Harris, but there’s little doubt in my mind he will be the starting catcher in Atlanta for a long time. Defensively, he might already be the best catcher in the organization, and offensively, he’s already flashing a ton of pop, smashing 22 homers last season in 92 games for the Mississippi Braves. If Langeliers thrives in Gwinnett, it wouldn’t shock me if the Braves shuffled things around and called him up to the majors.

It’s difficult to put a finger on the Braves’ plan with Contreras. He remains one of the top prospects in the organization, but the extension of d’Arnaud and the signing of Pina have Conteras’ outlook with the organization looking cloudy at best. I believe in his bat long-term, but there may be some questions surrounding his defense. If the Braves don’t think he has a long-term future behind the plate, he will likely be traded sooner rather than later.

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