Who was the Braves 2021 Minor League MVP?

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Earlier this week, I kicked off this year’s Braves MiLB Team Awards with the system’s Cy Young, naming righty Bryce Elder as the top pitcher for 2021. Today it’s time to award an MVP…

 

Braves 2021 Minor League Team Awards: MVP

Shea Langeliers 

 

We always knew the Braves top pick from 2019 was going to be a good one — nearly a .300 career AVG at a Power 5 college (Baylor) that featured three consecutive seasons of 10+ home runs. And, oh yeah… as a catcher, he provided perhaps some of the best glove work in the country. Leading up to the 2019 MLB Draft, Shea Langeliers definitely wasn’t sneaking under anyone’s radar. 

But even with such a prestigious track record as a collegiate player and a title as one of the best catchers in the class, Langeliers was still considered primarily a defensive player. FanGraphs gave him poor marks when it came to both his Hit tool and Game Power, pegging him with 30 grades for each (out of 80). As Langeliers began his pro career, the then 21-year-old was considered a glove-first player whose stock was dependent on how well his bat would progress. 

… and progress… it very much did…

After showing flashes during his draft year and recovering nicely from a slow start to post a .255 AVG and .652 OPS with 15 XBH in 55 games at the Single-A level in 2019, Langeliers quickly blossomed into a superstar with Double-A Mississippi in 2021. Now at the tail-end of his first full professional season, the former top pick has been one of the Braves best minor league hitters, and has arguably been the organization’s most complete player this year.

 

It would be one thing if Langeliers’ outstanding performance this season was built only from offense. But if you’ve followed his 2021 season any, then I’m sure you know that certainly hasn’t been the case. Don’t get me wrong, Langeliers has been a top 10 hitter in all of Double-A this year, ranking among the best in the South League in AVG, homers and wRC+ (through Thursday).

Langeliers on offense (2021)

92 G, .258 AVG, 128 wRC+, 22 HR

 

However, what makes Langeliers the Braves minor league MVP for 2021 is that he’s been able to post the numbers above at the plate while still managing to exceed expectations as a star behind the dish.

 

Langeliers on defense (2021)

  • 79 starts at catcher 
  • 679.1 innings 
  • 73 assists 
  • 4 errors (.995 Fld%)
  • 42 stolen bases
  • 30 caught-stealing (42 CS%)

 

Yes, this is Double-A. Not even Triple-A… and certainly not the majors. But a 42% caught-stealing rate is ridiculous, especially considering Langeliers’ rate stayed at roughly 50% for over half of the season. As of Friday, the average caught-stealing rate for a big league catcher is just 25%. And the Braves Travis d’Arnaud is currently hovering below 20%. 

So in a nutshell, Langeliers has done it all in 2021. He’s become even more dangerous as a defensive catcher, while drastically exceeding any and all expectations as a hitter. Add it all up… and you get the most valuable player in the Braves minor league system. 

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