By DJ Ramirez | Sports Editor
For the first time in the history of Baylor’s baseball program, two of its players were selected in the first round of the 2019 MLB First-Year Player Draft on Monday night. Junior starters Shea Langeliers and Davis Wendzel heard their names called the day after they donned their Baylor uniforms for the last time.
With the ninth overall pick, the Atlanta Braves selected Bears catcher Langeliers, who finished his final season as a collegiate ballplayer with a .308 batting average, 10 homeruns and putout 14 would-be base stealers despite a hamate injury in his catching hand earlier this year. Langeliers said hearing his named called was indescribable.
“Can’t put a lot of words to it,” Langeliers said. “Your body just floods with emotion, it’s one of the happiest moments of your life and to see that all the hard work you put in for a majority of your life is paying off, and to spend it with everybody that you love […] it was a very special moment.”
Langeliers’s name had been high in the mock drafts all year long after a stellar sophomore campaign and a mile-long list of accolades. The 2018 Rawlings Gold Glove winner is disputedly the best defensive catcher in college baseball with only Oregon State’s Adley Rutschman, who was chosen first by the Baltimore Orioles, as a comparison. According to the Braves vice president of scouting Dana Brown, Langeliers will “solve the catcher position” for the relatively young organization. Langeliers responded to Brown’s high praise by saying he’s only looking to improve as a ballplayer.
“It’s pretty cool to hear that from him,” Langeliers said. “Obviously for me, I’m still going to go in and get better every day, just the same attitude I’ve had, you know, my whole baseball career. Just take it one day at a time and get better.”
It was also a special moment for third baseman Wendzel, who was given the 41st pick in the draft by the Texas Rangers in the Competitive Balance Round A. Wendzel led the Big 12 in hitting for the majority of the season and finished the year with a .367 average, receiving Co-Big 12 Player of the Year honors along with Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung. The California native said he’s excited to get to continue his baseball career in Texas.
“I mean I feel like I’m from Texas in my heart, so it’s awesome I get to play for Texas, you know,” Wendzel said.
Wendzel’s pick by the Rangers organization came as a surprise since they had already drafted Jung as the eighth overall pick, but scouting director Kip Fagg said that they would select the best player available for their organization. Overall, Wendzel expressed that he was chosen for his potential at the plate and that he could field any position.
“I didn’t get here by playing one position and I’m not going to start just playing one position,” Wendzel said. “They see me as a bat and I can play anywhere in the field. That’s what they like about me and that’s what I like to do.”
Langeliers and Wendzel not only made history for Baylor, but also for their head coach Steve Rodriguez. While Rodriguez has had 53 players drafted into the major leagues during his 16-year coaching career, this is the first time that any of them were taken in the first round. The two juniors were part of the first class for Rodriguez after he made the move to Baylor from Pepperdine University in 2015.
The two players shared that they feel proud of what they were able to accomplish at Baylor and how much the university and the baseball program have meant to them.
“We were Coach Rod’s first class that came in here and to have me and [Wendzel] as first rounders, it’s huge for the program. It shows that hard work really does pay off,” Langeliers said. “You know everybody loves you here at Baylor and you’re really going to prosper as a person and as a baseball player, and it just shows how special this place is.”