Atlanta Braves minor league players honored

From 2020: Atlanta Braves catcher Shea Langeliers. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
From 2020: Atlanta Braves catcher Shea Langeliers. Mandatory Credit: Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports /

The minor league seasons are nearly over, with the Atlanta Braves AAA affiliate still playing out the string.  So awards are in order.

The Atlanta Braves annually mark the end of the minor league seasons with organizational awards that recognize the accomplishments of their best players.  This year might be particularly noteworthy, given that there was an actual minor league season.

These awards, given to the top pitcher and top position player are now named after two of the Braves’ best-known Hall of Famers from their history.  The names should not be of particular surprise:

  • The Phil Niekro Award goes to RHP Bryce Elder, who rocketed through 3 levels of the minors this year, and was rumored to be a possible spot-starter option for one of the recent games in San Diego… while that didn’t happen, it speaks volumes about his accomplishments this year.
  • The Hank Aaron Award was presented to catcher Shea Langeliers.  Shea got his own promotion this week to AAA to finish out their season, but not before he carried the offense of the Mississippi Braves to a championship of the AA-South league, their first title since 2008.

Langeliers played 92 games for Mississippi… most of them behind the plate.  He hit .258 overall, slugged 22 homers, and drove in 52 with an .836 OPS.  This is from a catcher who was drafted as a “glove first” player.

Those numbers placed 4th in the entire league in OPS, third in homers, tied for 13th in RBI, 7th in runs scored, and 10th in batting average (this is a ‘pitchers league’, don’t forget).

All of those led the team among the qualified players… and Langeliers was rested enough that those league leaders typically had played a dozen more games than he.

Bryce Elder won’t show up on any league leader boards because he wasn’t in any league long enough to qualify.  But he did do this in 2021:

  • High-A Rome:  2-1 in 45 innings; 1.29 WHIP, 55K and 20 BB.  ERA was 2.60
  • AA Mississippi: 7-1 in 56 innings; 1.00 WHIP, 60K and 17 BB.  ERA was 3.21
  • AAA Gwinnett:  2-3 in 32.2 innings:  0.95 WHIP, 36K and 15 BB.  ERA 2.20.

Elder made 24 starts overall and threw 133.2 innings.  That’s a heckuva set of stats for someone barely out of college (2020 draftee; Round 5).

But no rest for either player today:  both are playing right now in a game against the Jacksonville Jumbo Shrimp.  As of this post time, Gwinnett is up 2-1 in the 3rd inning.

Next. Braves put Phillies on life support. dark

Congratulations to each of these guys:  their futures are quite bright, and both could be knocking on the door to the majors as early as next season!