Nathan Keil | Sports Editor
Sophomore Catcher Shea Langeliers is already one of the best in the country. That isn’t good enough for him. In order to continue to develop as a player, he had to venture to the top summer baseball league in the country, the Cape Cod Baseball League.
As a freshman, he played a crucial role in helping lead Baylor back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2012, while earning both Big-12 Second Team and Freshman All-American honors.
Langeliers found himself near the top in all offensive categories for head coach Steve Rodriguez and the Bears. He finished second in average at .313, second in home runs with 10 and RBIs with 38, but led the team in hits and runs with 66 and 43 respectively, all while adjusting to Division I arms and managing the Baylor pitching staff.
For Rodriguez and his teammates, the amount of success he had on the field it didn’t come as a shock. In fact, they expected it from him.
“You never really know what’s going to happen when you get freshmen in here. Sometimes they really blossom and flourish like Shea did and sometimes it takes a year or two to adjust to Big 12 baseball,” Rodriguez said. “Shea did a phenomenal job adjusting quickly. I think everyone knew right away once we saw him work out that he was going to be something special.”
Langeliers said he has always held himself to the highest standard when it comes to performance, but it isn’t his numbers that signify his success but the leadership surrounding him that helped him get comfortable at the plate and behind the plate for the Bears.
“I knew it would be tough but I had high expectations for myself. I expected to do well, but wasn’t sure how well I would do. I was just trying to help the team win,” Langeliers said. “It was an awesome freshman year at Baylor being a part of that team. We had a lot of guys that took us younger guys under their wing. They were always watching over us, leading the way.”
But one great freshman season at Baylor wasn’t enough for Langeliers. Instead of sitting back and admiring his growing list of accolades, he trusted the development process that assistant coach Jon Strauss had been working on since the fall by accepting a roster spot with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League (CCBL).
The CCBL is one of the premier amateur baseball leagues in the country, providing some of the NCAA’s finest baseball players the opportunity to compete against one another in a 44-game regular season followed by three separate playoff series over the course of the summer. Cape Cod has helped to produce more than 297 current players in the Major Leagues as well as numerous Hall of Famers in its 132 seasons of competition, according to its official website.
Langeliers hopes to be a name that gets added to that list over time. In order to do so, it meant making the most of the experience and embracing the challenges that follow competing at such a high level, including understanding where he needs to improve and not being afraid to be a vocal leader on the diamond.
“The competition is tough. You’re playing the best guys every night. From a hitting standpoint, it’s been pretty mentally tough but I’ve been learning a lot and trying to get better every day,” Langeliers said. “For me, I’ve needed to get to know my pitchers and not be afraid to get on some of the guys. Pitchers will listen to me more than they will some of the coaches and I feel like I’ve been doing better and getting more comfortable doing so. I need to know how to control the pitching staff and how to control the situation when they’re missing the zone.”
Similar to his start in the spring, Langeliers jumped out to a fast start this summer for the Anglers, collecting hits in each of his first nine games, including a two-home-run, five-RBI performance in an 8-5 loss to the Hyannis Harbor Hawks on Jun. 25 en route to a Cape Cod All-Star Selection.
In 34 games for the Anglers, Langeliers hit .234 with 30 hits in 128 at bats, including eight doubles, two triples, and six home runs while driving in 21 runs.
With the high level of competition and the slightly more laid-back approach to summer ball, Langeliers has had the opportunity to continue to improve his already fine-tuned game. For him, it has been able to use and hit all sides of the field.
“The coaches said I could probably use the whole field more, so I started working on hitting the ball to the right side,” Langeliers said. “I’ve been working on it and feel like I’ve been doing better and using it more comfortably.
According to his spray chart, a tool used to measure and account for where each player hits the ball during of their at bats, Langeliers’ hard work has paid off, as five of his 30 hits have been to right or right center field, including two home runs.
After adding a successful summer league season to his resume, the expectations will be higher on him as he enters his sophomore season at Baylor. Being able to manage them is something that Rodriguez knows he has to do.
“The biggest thing for him is to not try to outdo what he did last year,” Rodriguez said. “You just to make sure you’re continuing to be a good baseball player and learning some of the smaller things.”
As Langeliers returns for his sophomore campaign, it once again isn’t about the numbers, but about the leadership of the guys on the team, and this year, that means him.
“It’s been great seeing the best pitching there is. When I get back, I’ll be comfortable in the box because I’ve been there and done that and I can just go out there and hit,” Langeliers said. “But having struggled here and having to mature mentally, when I come back and I see others struggling, I want to help pick other guys up.”