The Braves have not invested a first-round pick in a catcher since the ’80s, so it is needless to say the organization has high hopes for 2019 ninth overall pick Shea Langeliers out of Baylor University. And in what was likely most Braves’ fans first glimpse of him, he did not disappoint.
Langeliers did not do much with the stick upon arriving in Rome after being drafted. But while the Braves certainly think he is better than a .652 OPS hitter, his bat is not why they selected him. This is a team that values defense behind the plate, and Langeliers flashed just how elite his catching ability was on Saturday.
Snitker said Langeliers' pop time on his throw to second in the eighth inning was 1.87. Per Statcast, Realmuto led MLB with an 1.88 average pop time on throws to second last year.
— Mark Bowman (@mlbbowman) February 22, 2020
Shea still has a ton of development time left in the minors despite being an advanced college bat but is already showing major league talent behind the plate. This is a luxury to have for any organization, especially one that has not had a catcher who can throw out a baserunner in over a decade. Tyler Flowers may be able to do some damn good pitch framing, but nobody fears him on the basepaths.
Langeliers’ defense alone should allow him to move through the minors relatively quickly and almost guarantee him a spot on the big league club down the road. His ability should be able to maximize the results from their pitching staff. His ceiling will be determined by how far he can come with the bat, though he was a respectable hitter in college. It seems the hope here is that he can be an elite defender behind the plate and a serviceable hitter. In today’s MLB, that is all you can ask for from the catcher’s position.
We have Langeliers listed as the sixth-best prospect in the Braves’ system, and hopefully, he can present a long-time option behind the plate for Atlanta. It will be fun to watch him and fellow backstop William Contreras manage the staff and log some at-bats against major league pitching this spring. As things stand, it seems as if Langeliers has been deemed the catcher of the future by the organization.