Langeliers, Elder earn Aaron, Niekro Awards

September 28th, 2021

ATLANTA -- A little more than two years after competing against each other at the collegiate level, and have been honored by the Braves for the success they had during what was the first full Minor League season for both players.

Langeliers, who is recognized as one of the best catchers in the Minors, was named the recipient of the 2021 Hank Aaron Award, which is given annually to the best position player in the Braves' Minor League system. Elder earned the 2021 Phil Niekro Award, which is given annually to the top pitcher in Atlanta’s farm system.

Per MLB Pipeline, Langeliers ranks as baseball’s No. 70 prospect and the No. 2 prospect in the Braves’ system. Elder ranks as the team’s No. 11 prospect.

Described as a bulldog by a scout who recently watched him pitch, Elder showed his competitive nature while producing a 2.76 ERA over 24 starts at three levels this year. The 22-year-old right-hander has posted a 2.20 ERA over six starts since being promoted to Triple-A Gwinnett.

“I think we still have a long way to go,” Elder said. “It was a good year.”

This was Elder’s first introduction to a normal Minor League season. After being selected by the Braves in the fifth round of the 2020 MLB Draft, the young hurler spent some time at the club’s alternate training site. But the COVID-19 shutdown prevented him from playing in Minor League games.

Elder’s adaptation to the professional level was strengthened by the preparation he received while playing at the University of Texas, whose baseball coaching staff includes former MLB All-Stars Huston Street and Troy Tulowitzki.

Langeliers competed against Texas while playing collegiately at Baylor University. When he was selected with the ninth overall selection in 2019, the primary question was whether he would ever hit enough to establish himself as an everyday catcher at the big league level.

Concerns about Langeliers’ offensive potential lessened as he hit .258 with 22 homers and an .836 OPS for Double-A Mississippi this year. His contributions helped the M-Braves win the Double-A South championship.

Langeliers is the latest to credit some of his success to Braves Minor League hitting coordinator Mike Brumley, who also receives regular praise from Austin Riley.

“I could talk to Brumley all day about hitting,” Langeliers said. “He's done a really good job for me and he explains things really well. He's definitely meant a lot for me.”

Elder’s rise has put him in position to at least be mentioned as a rotation candidate during Spring Training next year. Langeliers may need a little more time in the Minors. But he too could make his Major League debut next year.