By DJ Ramirez | Sports Writer
If there’s one thing players in the Big 12 and around the state of Texas know, it’s that you don’t run on Baylor’s backstop. With a pop-up time of less than two seconds behind the plate and an arm like a cannon, junior starting catcher Shea Langeliers is a rare kind of ballplayer.
A two-time All-American and 2018 Rawlings/ABCA Gold Glove winner, Langeliers has one of the most well-rounded skill sets of any amateur catcher in the nation and although he could probably be just as good in any other position, catching is what he’s grown to love.
“I played shortstop up until I was 12 years old,” Langeliers said. “Obviously I’ve loved baseball my whole life and my dad kind of talked to me at that age and was like, ‘Hey, there’s very few catchers that are good at catching and good at hitting,’ and I was like, ‘All right.’ So I was 13 when I started catching and fell in love with it obviously and worked my butt off and it’s turning out to be good so far.”
In this his third year on the Bears’ squad, the Keller native has made 135 starts in the catcher position and has .994 career fielding percentage. As a freshman, he ranked third in the Baylor record books for lowest percentage in bases stolen against him and threw out 26 base runners. His skills behind the plate only improved in his sophomore season with 449 putouts and 22 caught stealing, which earned him first pick on the 2018 Collegiate National Team.
According to head coach Steve Rodriguez, Langeliers’ ability to control the game behind the plate is why he’s one of the best in the country.
“When he’s throwing the ball down there, 1.81, 1.82 [seconds], and guys are still running when the middle infielders still have the baseball, it puts our minds at ease. All we have to do is say, ‘Hey, just play catch.’ It’s one of the most impressive things I’ve seen as a coach, and I’m really happy to have him on our side,” Rodriguez said.
On top of his defensive ability, Langeliers has also earned his spot in the heart of Baylor’s lineup. He hit .313 as a freshman and despite going through a bit of a slump in his sophomore year with a .252 batting average, he hit 11 home runs in 2018, breaking his freshman record of 10. His walk-off single in the 2018 Big 12 Championship Tournament won the Bears their first tournament title.
In the 2019 season, Langeliers is hitting .324 and has five home runs on the year, despite suffering from a broken wrist early in the season. But Baylor has learned to turn adversity into opportunity this year and the junior made a quick recovery while freshman catcher Kyle Harper filled in for him.
Langeliers’ defensive ability combined with the power of his bat are only part of why he’s a great player. His leadership has also been impactful for the team, especially with seven new pitchers on the roster this season. According to Langeliers, his experience as a freshman encouraged him and the rest of the upperclassmen to welcome the newcomers with open arms.
“I feel like that’s why this program is going up and getting better every year is just welcoming everybody in with open arms,” Langeliers said. “We all get along and we mesh really well and obviously for a bunch of pitchers and for myself to be a junior –I’ve been here for a couple years – I feel like that’s an advantage to the pitchers because I can kind of help them get through situations that I’ve seen other young pitchers go through.”
As one of the best catchers in college baseball, Langeliers is projected to be round one major league draft pick in June, but that isn’t something he’s really worried about at the moment. With the Bears in first place of the Big 12 and a possibility to host a regional, Langeliers and the rest of the team are taking it one step at a time.
“I try to not think about it too much. That’s after our season, or I guess we could be in post season, but right now this is the most important thing to me,” Langeliers said.