Prospect list season continued Wednesday with the roll out of FanGraphs’ Top 100 prospect list. The Atlanta Braves had a pair of players make the cut in catcher Shea Langeliers and outfielder Cristian Pache.
Langeliers comes in at No. 70 on the list. He is lauded for his defensive ability and improving power that he showed at Double A Mississippi last season.
In a world where there are 30 teams but aren’t 30 legitimate starting catchers, Langeliers’ combination of elite defense and just-enough offense made him a top 10 pick in the 2019 draft. In 2021, his power blossomed to make him one of the better catching prospects around. Langeliers has the potential to win multiple Gold Gloves. He moves well laterally, has soft, quiet hands and a strong, accurate arm that shuts down the running game. He also earns raves for his catching intangibles in terms of managing the game and working with pitchers. At the plate, he has a bit of a brute force game, and while Langeliers isn’t an especially instinctual hitter (he projects as a sub-50 bat with contact issues), he has plus raw power and the potential to whack 20-plus home runs annually. His combination of power and glove work could make him one of the more valuable catchers in baseball despite the lack of eye-popping back-of-the-baseball-card numbers.
Pache dropped to No. 72 in this year’s list. He is once again lauded for his defensive ability in center, but questions remain for him at the plate.
We are trying not to allow prospect fatigue to impact our view of Pache, whose offensive output has sunk since his 2019 peak, when he hit .278/.340/.474 as a 20-year-old at Double-A Mississippi. Since then, he has struggled to crack the Braves outfield even amid their many injuries, and the club has prioritized giving at-bats to Abraham Almonte, Guillermo Heredia, and other players acquired via trade. He’s struggled to make contact in limited big league time and hit just .265/.330/.414 at Triple-A in 2021. Pache was still just a 22-year-old, and that line was on par with the Triple-A average. Additionally, Pache’s swinging strike rate came down from his concerning 2019 levels. He had a 17% swinging strike rate (if we 20-80’d swinging strike rates, that’d be a 30) then versus a 13% rate in 2021, just a little worse than the big league average. There were times when it appeared that Pache had made a swing change in 2021, with emphasis on getting his front foot down earlier, but this isn’t consistent on tape. His walk rates have been near the bottom of the scale for many years now, but Pache’s chase rates, per Synergy, were also close to the big league average while he was at Triple-A.
Notably absent from the list is outfielder Michael Harris who has been showing up on Top 100 lists for other outlets. FanGraphs was a bit low on Harris last year as well so it will be interesting to see what they have to say about him when the Braves’ team list is released.