With alternate sites coming to an end, MLB Pipeline is recapping the development highlights for the prospects involved for each organization.
Top position prospect: Shea Langeliers, C (No. 4 on Top 30)
Langeliers, the No. 9 overall pick in the 2019 Draft, was billed as a premium defender behind the plate with some offensive upside. He hasn’t been able to play much, but has lived up to that billing in big league camp and then at the alternate site at Coolray Field in Gwinnett, Ga.
“His defense is as good as advertised,” Braves farm director Ben Sestanovich said. “His arm is probably the standout tool but Shea takes real pride in all of his work behind the dish and pitchers love throwing to him.”
That glove work will likely get him to the big leagues, but Langeliers doesn’t want to be one dimensional. As impressive as he was as a backstop, he stood out with how much effort he put into the other side of the ball.
“He worked hard with our hitting guys on his offense and showed consistent above-average power at the alternate site, particularly to right center-field,” Sestanovich said of the right-handed hitter.
Top pitching prospect: Kyle Muller, LHP (No. 6)
It’s fairly obvious No. 3 prospect Ian Anderson used a strong alternate site performance to catapult him up to Atlanta and his current run of postseason dominance. But Muller, a second-round pick in the same 2016 Draft that netted Anderson (the money saved on Anderson at No. 3 helped pay for Muller’s over-slot bonus), wasn’t too far behind. Muller has been throwing increasingly harder over the last couple of years, and maintained his newfound velocity. In Gwinnett, he showed that off along with making strides in becoming a more complete pitcher.
“Kyle is a really good athlete and his stuff is plus across the board,” Sestanovich said. “He’s developed a slider which has complemented his other pitches well. He sat it the upper 90s for the summer and touched 100 a number of times. He’s worked hard on his delivery and we saw the consistency of his stuff and strikes improve over the course of our time in Gwinnett.”
Youngest prospect: Michael Harris, OF (No. 12) and Vaughn Grissom, SS (No. 22)
Technically, Harris is a couple of months older than Grissom, but they were the two teenagers at the alternate site. Both are members of the 2019 Draft class, with Harris a third-rounder who played his way to full-season ball during his summer debut and Grissom an above-slot 11th-round pick who also performed well in the Gulf Coast League last summer.
“Both 19-year-olds more than held their own against the advanced pitching they were facing on a regular basis,” Sestanovich said. “Harris has very good instincts in center field and a plus arm. Grissom’s versatility on the infield and bat to ball skills stood out.”
“Shuster has one of the better changeups in the system already,” Sestanovich said. “Franklin hit the ground running after missing his junior year at Michigan, and Strider showed big fastball velocity (up to 99 mph).”
Because of COVID concerns with their big league catching tandem (both Travis d’Arnaud and Tyler Flowers ended up testing negative), William Contreras (No. 7) was forced into action despite having just 60 games above Class A ball on his resume. Willson’s younger brother made the most of it, going 4-for-10 in the process, then continued to get better in Gwinnett.
“He made big strides on both sides of the ball,” Sestanovich said. “He worked really hard on his defense in Spring Training with [catching coach] Sal Fasano. He’s a great athlete and we started to see that athleticism translate to plus defense behind the plate. Offensively, William has above-average raw power which he really started to tap into this summer.”