'Surreal moment': Langeliers stars in full-circle debut

A's top prospect doubles on first pitch he sees -- against club he grew up rooting for

August 17th, 2022

ARLINGTON -- spent many of his childhood years going to Rangers games, hearing the club’s iconic “It’s baseball time in Texas” announcement from the stands each time.

He remembers cheering on players like Elvis Andrus, Michael Young and Adrían Béltre during the team’s back-to-back World Series runs in 2010-11. But Langeliers only had a fan's-eye view then.

On Tuesday, Oakland’s No. 1 prospect per MLB Pipeline turned the tables after he was called up from Triple-A Las Vegas to make his MLB debut with a cheering section of about 100 friends and family members rooting him on from the stands. This time, he was the one gearing up to play as Rangers announcer Chuck Morgan said those famous words: "It’s baseball time in Texas."

“It's crazy to think about. I was just a little kid growing up, going to all the games, and now I’m playing against them,” Langeliers said prior to Oakland’s 5-1 win over Texas, a much-needed victory that snapped a nine-game losing streak. “It’s just a surreal moment.”

Langeliers, who was selected by the Braves out of Baylor University as the ninth overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft, was acquired by Oakland prior to the season as a key part of the return from Atlanta for first baseman Matt Olson (Oakland also acquired Cristian Pache, Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes).

After 92 games with Las Vegas -- and with the rebuilding A's approaching a double-digit losing streak -- Langeliers received the news of his callup on Monday, ahead of the Aviators’ game in Sacramento. He was in the training room when Las Vegas manager Fran Riordan walked in.

“[He] just came in and just asked me what I was doing. I was like, ‘Oh, just getting worked on, getting ready,’” Langeliers recalled. “And he's like, ‘You think you'll be ready to play in Arlington tomorrow?’”

Ranked as the No. 36 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, the catcher put together a .283/.366/.510 slash line this season in Triple-A with 100 hits, 19 doubles, 19 home runs, 56 RBIs and 43 walks -- not including the solo shot he hit at the 2022 SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game on his way to earning MVP honors.

“As far as the decision to bring up Shea, it was a matter of when and not if we're going to bring him up,” A’s general manager David Forst said. “I mean, he has excelled in every way since starting the season in Las Vegas. We knew we wanted to get him here at some point this year, and this was the time where we felt like we could get him at-bats.”

In his first Major League at-bat -- and on the first pitch he saw -- Langeliers showed off his 60-grade power and ripped a double down the left-field line, leading off the second inning and immediately putting Oakland in position to improve on an early 1-0 lead.

“I feel like the only way to get past [the first-game jitters] was to ... if he gave me a good pitch to hit [on] the first pitch, I was swinging at it,” Langeliers said.

In doing so, Langeliers became the first A’s rookie to get a hit on the first pitch of his first Major League at-bat since Ramón Hernandez on June 29, 1999.

Langeliers was soon driven in by  (another of the 14 rookies on Oakland’s current roster) to stake the A's to a 2-0 lead. It also helped that fellow rookie threw five innings of scoreless ball to help the club break its skid, en route to picking up his fourth win of the season and first with the A's.

“The young guys at the bottom of the order, they started it,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “It’s a good sign.”

Langeliers started as a designated hitter in Tuesday’s win and batted in the six hole in the lineup. Though the catcher -- who has a 70-grade arm and threw out 42% of potential basestealers in 2021 -- provides plenty of value behind the plate, he won’t be catching as much as he did in Triple-A. Instead, he’ll assume a backup role for Sean Murphy, while getting at-bats at DH.

“I don’t think bringing up Shea is about limiting Sean’s workload as much as it is about seeing Shea and getting him some opportunities in the Major Leagues,” Forst said, noting that Murphy came into the season wanting to prove that he could catch 130-plus games. “Sean is our starting catcher. That’s not going to change.”