MESA, Ariz. (AP) — All fans need to know about Shea Langeliers’ powerful arm is that he gains more satisfaction from throwing out baserunners than hitting long balls.
With an elite pop time regularly below 1.90 seconds, Langeliers is among four touted prospects obtained by the Oakland Athletics from the Atlanta Braves this week in exchange for All-Star first baseman Matt Olson.
Braves general manager Alex Anthopoulos was significantly reluctant to part with Langeliers, center fielder Cristian Pache, right-hander Ryan Cusick and 20-year-old righty Joey Estes.
“This is the most talent we’ve traded since I’ve been in Atlanta,’’ Anthopoulos told reporters.
Langeliers, the Braves’ 2021 minor league player of the year, also is known for framing pitches and communicating well with pitchers.
“I always have high expectations for myself,’’ he said Wednesday at his first practice with his new Oakland teammates.
After throwing out 42% of base stealers while splitting time between Double-A and Triple-A last season, Langeliers spent time with the major league club as a non-roster player, training and observing the habits of Braves players throughout their run to a World Series championship.
“That experience was awesome … especially in the postseason environment,’’ the former Baylor star said. “You just can’t replicate that type of experience.’’
The ninth overall pick in the 2019 draft has caught Cusick and Estes.
“Estes throws four pitches and has command of all four,’’ Langeliers said. “I think really highly of him. The way he carries himself, day to day, he keeps wanting to get better. Cusick throws everything hard … he works hard, he’s going to be good, too.’’
The 6-foot-6 Cusick, who has exceeded 100 mph, was a first-round pick in 2021 out of Wake Forest.
Langeliers also provided a scouting report on the 23-year-old Pache, who signed with the Braves out of the Dominican Republic in 2015.
“He’s an unreal outfielder; he’s made some of the most unbelievable catches in center field, and has a cannon for an arm,’’ Langeliers said.
Pache did not play winter ball as usual this year.
“I was trying to get the hamstring stronger and make sure it was healthy enough to start the season,’’ he said through translator Luis Victoria.
Pronouncing his hamstring fully healed, Pache said: “I am very excited. Whatever I can play, I will play. I’m just excited to try out and see where I can go. Whatever the team needs me to be, I am willing to contribute as much as I can.’’
A’s first-year manager Mark Kotsay believes Pache can compete for an opening day roster spot, and with center fielder Ramon Laureano suspended for the first 27 games of the season (carrying over from last year’s 80-game suspension for testing positive for a banned substance), Pache might move up on the depth chart.
“In explaining to him the opportunity here, he’s excited to be here, and we’re excited to put our eyes on him and assess his abilities,’’ Kotsay said.
In another recent trade, Oakland received minor league right-handers J.T. Ginn and Adam Oller from the New York Mets in return for All-Star pitcher Chris Bassitt. And on Wednesday, the A’s got right-hander Gunnar Hoglund, Toronto’s top pick in the 2021 amateur draft, minor league lefty Zach Logue, left-handed reliever Kirby Snead and infielder Kevin Smith from the Blue Jays for Gold Glove third baseman Matt Chapman.
In all, the revamped A’s have brought in 10 new players in the last five days, and said goodbye to three tremendously impactful players.
“Any time you have a lot of change, that change is difficult, and so how we tackle it, and how we stand up to it, makes us stronger,’’ Kotsay said. “We, in this group, know that the focus has to be on our work and getting prepared for a season.’’
NOTES: INF Chad Pinder is among the players Kotsay is considering to take over at third base in Chapman’s absence. … Brent Honeywell Jr., Paul Blackburn and A.J. Puk are expected to pitch Friday in the Cactus League opener against the Angels. … Kotsay was asked about playing in Toronto (from April 15-17), where only vaccinated players are permitted on the field. “I think we know there are players who are not vaccinated,’’ he said. “At this point, we haven’t had the opportunity to have the conversation, but in terms of understanding that obviously every club is going to be impacted by this, and in a similar situation, I think the plan will be formed as soon as we can.’’ … SS Elvis Andrus, whose 2021 season ended when he broke his leg scoring a game-winning run, has worked diligently in rehabilitation and is scheduled to play on Friday. “Elvis is the everyday shortstop,’’ Kotsay said. “It is Elvis’ position to lead us forward.’’ … RHP James Kaprielian is about two weeks behind because of joint irritation in his shoulder.
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