If the Baylor Bears continue down the path that they began to forge by getting back into the postseason in 2017, and the story is written several years down the road about how head coach Steve Rodriguez got the program turned around, Shea Langeliers will likely be a central part of that story.
It’s easy to see a scenario where his career, marked by early success, and his development as a player could run parallel to the development of the Baylor program, as they work to get back to being a perennial power in the Big 12.
Coming into last season, there was buzz that Langeliers was going to have an instant impact, and he absolutely delivered, hitting .313/.388/.540 with 14 doubles, ten homers, and 38 RBI, a season that earned him Freshman All-America honors all over the place. After the season, he spent the season with Chatham in the Cape Cod League, and he impressed once again by clubbing eight doubles and six home runs, a performance that helped place him as the eighth-best prospect on the Cape, according to D1Baseball.com.
His performance played a huge role in getting the Bears back into a regional in Rodriguez’s second year, and for the first time since 2012.
In 2018, he’ll certainly be looking to take the next step as a player, right alongside his teammates helping the program to take its next step.
It will be a challenge for the Baylor lineup to replace the likes of Matt Menard, Aaron Dodson, and Kameron Esthay, but there’s still plenty of firepower around Langeliers to form a physical lineup once again.
Richard Cunningham, after hitting .306 with 15 doubles and five home runs in 2017, is one of three returning Baylor hitters, including Langeliers, who hit .300 a year ago. The third is Davis Wendzel, who is back after hitting .301 with eight home runs a year ago.
Tucker Cascadden, he of the walk-off grand slam to beat Texas A&M at Minute Maid Park last season (his only home run of the season, mind you), is back after hitting .264 with 11 doubles, as are Josh Bissonette (.272 BA, .370 OBP) and T.J. Raguse (.266 BA, .377 OBP).
When you consider that the pitching staff returns a core of closer Troy Montemayor (2.10 ERA, 12 SV), returning weekend starter Cody Bradford (5-5, 5.52 ERA), relievers Kyle Hill (2.98 ERA, 42.1 IP), Joe Heineman (3.68 ERA, 29.1 IP), and Drew Robertson (3.70 ERA, 24.1 IP), and swingmen Hayden Kettler (3.35, 37.2 IP) and Alex Phillips (5.83 ERA, 41.2 IP), it seems like a good bet that Baylor will continue to move in the right direction.
And that’s to say nothing of the incoming new faces we haven’t seen on the field yet. Last year, it was Langeliers. We don’t know who it will be this time around, but if that person or persons can contribute in a way similar to the way the Baylor catcher did as a freshman, the Big 12 will have a developing power on its hands.