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June 30, 2022

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Las Vegas Aviators top prospect behind plate Langeliers is catching on fast

Las Vegas Aviators catcher Shea Langliers

Steve Marcus

Las Vegas Aviators catcher Shea Langeliers (33) heads to the dugout at the end of an inning during a game against the Salt Lake Bees at Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin Wednesday, May 11, 2022.

Salt Lake first baseman David MacKinnon gets a good jump off first base and races for second during a steal attempt near the start of a recent game against Las Vegas. And then Aviators catcher Shea Langeliers reminds the packed house why he’s considered a top 100 prospect in all of baseball.

Las Vegas Aviators catcher Shea Langeliers

Las Vegas Aviators catcher Shea Langeliers (33) heads to the dugout before a game against the Salt Lake Bees at Las Vegas Ballpark in Summerlin Wednesday, May 11, 2022. Launch slideshow »

Langeliers receives a fastball from Parker Dunshee, hops up, and in one motion, fires a laser to second baseman Nick Allen to throw MacKinnon out.

“The biggest thing is anticipation,” Langeliers told the Weekly prior to the game. “You get a runner on base, it’s just anticipating every pitch that he’s gonna go. It kind of keeps you focused and locked in to the possibility that he might take off. The more comfortable you are with the pitcher, the easier it makes my job to make a good throw to second base.”

Langeliers is the prime attraction on the field at Las Vegas Ballpark this season. He’s rated as the No. 2 prospect in the Oakland Athletics’ organization according to MLB.com (behind another catcher, Tyler Soderstrom, who’s playing for High-A Lansing at the moment), but thus far this season, Langeliers is playing above his ranking.

In addition to his strong play defensively, he was batting .317 with 11 home runs and 24 RBI through the first 32 games of the year.

The Atlanta Braves drafted the 24-year-old out of Baylor University with the ninth overall pick of the 2019 Major League Baseball Entry Draft, but his time with the defending World Series champions was short-lived. Langeliers was one of four prospects traded from Atlanta to Oakland for All-Star first baseman Matt Olson in March.

It was a wake-up call to the realities of the business side of baseball.

Aviators' upcoming home schedule

• May 31-June 5 vs. Sacramento River Cats

• June 7-June 9 vs. Round Rock Express

• All games at 7 p.m. except for June 5, scheduled for noon.

• Tickets: $13-$50 at milb.com/las-vegas/tickets or 702-943-7200.

“At first I was definitely shocked, sad to leave all the friends I made over in the Braves organization,” he said. “[But] at the same time, excited. New organization, new opportunity. I’ve had nothing but fun, and I enjoy being around these guys.”

Cristian Pache was initially considered the top player the Braves gave up in the deal, but with the outfielder mired in a slump in the big leagues, Langeliers is making a case that he’s the biggest asset the A’s acquired for Olson.

The blend of hitting and defense Langeliers has shown with the Aviators doesn’t come around often for a catcher. Most players at the position are better in one phase of the game or the other.

The likelihood of finding the next Buster Posey, Joe Mauer or Salvador Perez is slim, but Langeliers has shown he could have that upside.

“It’s rare,” Aviators manager Fran Riordan said. “We happen to have a great one in Oakland in Sean Murphy. Having managed Murphy for a couple of years, and now seeing Shea, there are a lot of similarities there.”

During his sophomore season at Baylor, Langeliers made eight starts at first base, but he prefers playing catcher and isn’t looking to switch positions anytime soon.

That could be a long-term option for the A’s, however, if he continues to show promise at the plate. MLB.com has Langeliers as the ninth-ranked catching prospect in baseball, one spot behind Soderstrom, Oakland’s 2020 first-round pick.

Riordan sounds confident that Langeliers is a big-league caliber catcher.

“You combine his arm strength, his accuracy and release, he does a great job of flat-out shutting down the running game if our pitchers give him the chance,” Riordan said. “Just early in the season, you can tell teams are starting to run less and less when they face him because of the success he’s had throwing guys out.”

Langeliers says he’s focusing on the present and not trying to look too far into the future. He adds that he hasn’t paid close attention to the chatter regarding the Athletics’ potential move from Oakland to Las Vegas, even though it could match with the prime of his career.

He calls Las Vegas “a really cool place” and welcomes the idea of playing here for years to come. That’s not to say he wouldn’t be ecstatic to play for the A’s if they called him up to Oakland tomorrow, however.

The A’s could certainly use more offense after sitting last in the league with a .200 batting average through the first month and a half of the season. But Langeliers is in no rush to get to the majors, as he enjoys his time playing in Las Vegas Ballpark’s “exciting atmosphere.”

“In baseball … you’re going to have good stretches and bad stretches,” Langeliers said. “The good stretches, you find that routine, something that you get to the field every day and it locks you in and helps you focus on your plan, making sure the body feels good and all that type of stuff.”

This story appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.