Braves Spring Baseball

Atlanta catcher Shea Langeliers is making the most of his time in big-league camp with the Braves.

NORTH PORT — Before he became a pro himself, Braves prospect Shea Langeliers would watch Felix Hernandez mow down the competition on TV as a pitcher for the Seattle Mariners.

On Monday night at CoolToday Park, the Atlanta Braves 2019 first-round draft pick finally got to see what the “King” was like in person, catching the first five innings of a 2-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in front of 7,243 in attendance.

“I was kind of nervous at the beginning, but at the same time, it’s like, ‘It’s King Felix,’” Langeliers said. “He can throw any pitch, any count, anywhere.’ So it was a lot of fun.”

He stayed in the game for all five of Hernandez’s innings in which the veteran hurler allowed just one run on six hits and two walks, striking out six.

“He looks pretty good,” Hernandez said of Langeliers.

While Hernandez is doing everything he can to make a case for one of the two open spots in the Braves’ rotation, Langeliers entered his first spring training knowing there was little he could do to make the MLB club.

So he said he’s taken the approach of learning everything he can about one of the most demanding positions in the game.

“I didn’t feel any pressure coming in,” he said. “For me, I’m just focused on learning right now. But also at the same time, it’s really easy around these guys to have fun playing baseball. It’s been a blast.”

Though the 22-year-old has plenty of experience catching at the collegiate level with Baylor, there’s still some things he has to get used to as a professional.

“It’s more of the mental side of the game in catching,” Langeliers said. “I think they all knew coming in from college, not calling a game, and now having to call a game, the feel and the scouting report comes into play. I’m learning about all that stuff now.”

Along with technical aspects of the game, Langeliers said a difficult adjustment has been the schedule. After playing just three or four days a week in high school and college, he was asked to play as much as five to seven games a week after being drafted last summer.

The opportunities to play in spring have been more fleeting, however.

With established MLB players such as Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers and Alex Jackson ahead of him on the depth chart, Langeliers said he’s just doing his best to fit in and absorb everything he can while he’s with the team. After going 0-for-2 with two strikeouts on Monday night, he’s 5-for-11 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and one walk.

Monday night was the catcher’s first start this spring, and he made the most of it, knowing he’s destined to return to the minor leagues.

“Any way I can get better,” he said of what he wants out of spring training. “Hitting, catching, mental side. I’m just trying to take it all in because I know pretty soon I’ll get sent down or whatever it is.

“But while I’m here, it’s been a blast.”

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