Jonathan Mayo of MLBPipeline opened up his replies for a recent mailbag on Twitter, and I asked why Shea Langeliers didn’t crack into MLB’s Top Ten Catchers for all of the minors:
Shea Langeliers is likely the best defensive catcher in the Minors, and he belted 22 homers this year.
So why isn't the #Braves' No. 2 prospect on the Top 10 backstops list?
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) September 24, 2021
Mayo had a fascinating answer, and it confirmed what I had thought — there’s just a lot of talent at the position.
Any particular red flag or reason why Shea Langeliers wasn’t listed as a Top 10 catcher across the Minors? — @cantguardjake
It really has more to do with how deep the catching position is these days than any indication of issues around Langeliers, the Braves’ first pick in the 2019 Draft. Langeliers spent his first full season of pro ball in Double-A this year and showed off why he was considered one of the best defensive catchers in his Draft class, throwing out nearly 42 percent of potential basestealers. He also showed his power is going to play, with his 22 home runs tying him with fellow 2019 Draft classmate Rutschman for sixth among all catchers in the Minor Leagues.
Two of the catchers ahead of Langeliers on our Top 100 are also ahead of him on that homer list, MJ Melendez of the Royals and Francisco Álvarez of the Mets. Melendez led the Minors in homers with 38 and Alvarez hit 24 across two levels of A ball. Melendez reached Triple-A and is a year younger than Langeliers while Álvarez is still a teenager and has huge upside.
While no one surpasses Langeliers defensively (Rutschman comes close), overall the catchers ahead of Langeliers on that list all grade out a bit better than he does, thanks largely to their offensive profiles. I think Langeliers is going to be a very good everyday catcher in the big leagues and it should be noted that he would come in at No. 11 on that catcher list since he’s No. 70 on the Top 100 and Melendez is No. 68, so in some ways we are splitting hairs here.
Langeliers recently brought home the 2021 Hank Aaron Award, which goes to the best position player in the Braves Minor League System. I don’t think it will be too long before he gets some recognition as not only one of the best catchers but one of the best prospects in all of baseball.