On August 16, 2022, in the second inning of a night game at Globe Life Field, Arlington, Texas, a young and bulky catcher donning the away colors of the Athletics stood to the plate. He is about to take his first-ever Major League at-bat, a moment he will remember.
And, he wasted no time introducing himself to the Show, as he drills the first-pitch sinker off Rangers starter Kohei Arihara to the left field wall, off the reach of the left fielder Bubba Thompson, and that kid’s first Major League hit is a hustle double.
It was a long time since we last saw the best of that kid, whose name is Shea Langeliers, by the way, on the baseball field. After being called up from Oakland’s Triple-A affiliate Las Vegas Aviators, he already suited up for 40 games.
And he’s just getting started, everyone.
A promising bat that still needs polishing
In his first 142 at-bats, Langeliers has accumulated a measly .218 batting average, good enough to produce six homers and 22 runs batted in. Is it bad for an Athletics top prospect who mashed minor league pitching before getting called up? I won’t say so, given that his assignment to the big leagues was late, and he had fewer PAs to work with. But is there a possibility for even better numbers now that he can comfortably interchange being a DH or a second-option catcher to newly-arrived veteran Manny Piña? Here, I say yes.
Oakland’s pitcher-friendly ballpark has played a role in reduced offensive productions of its home players, Langeliers included. But it has not stopped him from having a decent offense to our standards. Per Baseball Reference, 55% of his 31 hits are for extra bases. Despite being from a small sample size and being a pull hitter, he had sprayed the right side of the field with all those hits.
But it can also be noted that his plate discipline also hampered his ability to hit for more, which becomes an adjustment he is set to improve as he is now up against Major League pitching. In his 2022 debut season, he struck out swinging 50 times while only seeing an average of 4 pitches per AB. He is only bound to build up from his maiden big league appearance and, who knows, be the hitter he is expected to be in his ascent to the Majors.
A new backup at the backstop
For sure, Langeliers has learned much from his senior Sean Murphy, and now that the latter is off to Atlanta after getting dealt there, it seems his ascent as the starting catcher is on the horizon.
Not until the A’s traded for Milwaukee’s Jace Peterson.
But from the 2022 season, it seems he has already embraced the role of being a designated hitter, appearing in 24 games while being a catcher 17 times. But despite playing a few games at his prime position, he has already shown promise as a future backstop. He is an integral part of the upcoming youth movement in Oakland, with their roster’s average age at 28 years old.
As it has always been with players getting the taste of their first Majors stint, experience will always be your teacher.
Numbers might not be sufficient to say how excited I am about Shea Langeliers getting a full season of baseball in Green & Gold. But here’s a thing – although I believe they could be years away from contention, I’m sure he’ll be part of it and can even lead the team back to it.