The Braves have agreed to terms with their first-round (ninth overall) selection Shea Langeliers and will pay the 21-year-old catcher a $4MM bonus, reports Jon Heyman of the MLB Network. The deal allows Atlanta to save a notable chunk of funds in its overall draft pool, as the ninth overall pick carries a recommended slot price of $4,949,100.
Baseball America, MLB.com, ESPN’s Keith Law, and Fangraphs all placed Langeliers in the upper tier of this year’s draft class, as the catcher was rated between 9th (BA) and 14th (Fangraphs) overall in all four outlets’ respective prospect rankings.
The Baylor product is lauded first and foremost for his stellar defense behind the plate, including a strong, accurate throwing arm and elite pop times, a combination that allowed him to cut down 70 percent of prospective basestealers in his sophomore season, per MLB.com. While his bat lags behind top catcher Adley Rutschman, his offense took a step forward this year and many scouts believe his defense alone could carry him to be an average regular at the Major League level. Eric Longenhagen and Kiley McDaniel of Fangraphs describe Langeliers as featuring budding power, though he favors a contact over power approach at the plate.
The Braves’ farm system is already one of the deepest in baseball, ripe with young pitchers who figure to contribute in some fashion at the highest level. In Langeliers, the Braves now have a catcher who looks as if he offers the defensive tools to assist those pitchers not only in the minor leagues, but also as they advance through the ranks and graduate to the Majors. If Langeliers pans out, his career could coincide with a staff that consists of the likes of Mike Soroka, Max Fried, Kyle Wright, Touki Toussaint, and others.
It bears mentioning that Langeliers was selected with the compensation pick the Braves received for failing to sign last year’s first round choice, Carter Stewart.