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Elephant Rumblings: Shea Langeliers is blasting off in Triple-A Las Vegas

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Happy Tuesday, Athletics Nation!

In a new tradition of hard hitting A’s catchers that has been set by Sean Murphy, the next in line looks to be making a name for himself with the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators. Coming to the Athletics organization in the Matt Olson trade with the Atlanta Braves, Shea Langeliers has been crushing the ball out in the desert.

As noted by The Athletic’s Melissa Lockard, Langeliers leads the Pacific Coast League in OPS, Slugging, and homers. Shea is ranked by MLB Pipeline as the A’s #2 prospect (behind another power hitting catcher, Tyler Soderstrom in High-A), and came highly regarded from the Braves. Being in the same conversation while also in the same draft class as the Orioles’ Adley Rutschman is good company for Langeliers, and if Shea’s bat can keep this momentum he’ll be a promising addition to the A’s next big lineup.

This hitting prowess is all on top of a reputation as a top-tier defensive catcher. The recent surge in offence has come as a plus on top of the catching prowess that Langeliers was drafted for. Langeliers’ defence has been so strong that he ran the gauntlet from draftee in low-A to ending last year’s minors season in AAA, all within just over a season’s worth of games.

There are just two things to keep in mind with Langeliers being able to take his sensational play to Oakland: desert air, and Sean Murphy.

You have to keep in mind that a lot of well charting Aviators performances don’t end up keeping the same momentum in the Bay Area. Between the elevation and thin air the ball carries WELL at Las Vegas Ballpark, a stark difference from the Coliseum which has been tied for the most pitcher-friendly park factor in MLB over the last three years. Also in Oakland the last three years has been Murphy, a Gold Glove defender. Murph’s ability to catch over two-thirds of a season with exceptional defence and a power bat means that there is little avenue to slot in Langeliers. Both catchers are primed to be near-everyday players, with DH potential when not slotted in as a backstop.

The one portentous factor that can lead to a passing of the torch: arbitration. Murphy is in his last pre-arbitration year, meaning that he’ll be due for some majorly increased paydays over the next three seasons. The kind of payday that the Athletics haven’t been keen to pay, as evidenced by the very trade that led them to acquire Langeliers. Giving Shea another season in AAA to build a rapport with the A’s starters of tomorrow isn’t a bad idea, then a call up so that Langeliers can back up Murphy before an inevitable cost-cutting trade happens. Either way, the A’s won’t be without a hard-hitting catcher for the foreseeable future.

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