Young catchers take center stage for A’s, Angels

Up-and-coming catchers playing leading roles will go head-to-head Wednesday night when Logan O’Hoppe and the Los Angeles Angels visit Shea Langeliers and the Oakland Athletics.

Batting cleanup, Langeliers, 26, contributed a single and a run to Tuesday’s 7-5 home win over the Angels in the series opener Tuesday. O’Hoppe, 24, countered with two singles and a walk for the Angels.

Acquired from the Atlanta Braves in 2022 — part of the package the A’s received for slugging first baseman Matt Olson — Langeliers rapidly became a foundation piece in the franchise’s future offensively and defensively.

In his first season as a regular, Langeliers hit 22 home runs in 2023, second-most on the A’s behind Brent Rooker’s 30. He also finished second to Rooker in RBIs (69-63).

O’Hoppe exploded in June with a 5-for-5 game against the Houston Astros. That confidence-boosting Sunday showing included a home run, a double and lifted O’Hoppe’s batting average 20 points — from .255 to .275. He now is batting .280, with 12 homers and 38 RBIs.

Langeliers is off to a faster start this season than last — 15 homers and 41 RBIs in Oakland’s first 87 games — but his batting average of .203 is teetering at the Mendoza Line. He again ranks second on the team to Rooker in RBIs, 48-41, and had a share of the club home-run lead until Rooker hit his 16th in the A’s win on Tuesday.

Langeliers has become Oakland’s twice-a-series catcher. That role is crucial to the team. Tyler Soderstrom, considered the franchise’s catcher of the future when he was the club’s first-round pick in 2020, shifted positions and is the everyday first baseman. The transition allowed the A’s to pair the sluggers and Rooker, the regular DH, in a threatening lineup.

Langeliers credits two former catcher teammates for aiding in his development.

“I got to be around Stephen Vogt and Sean Murphy and be a sponge around those guys and take in how they prepared and how they go about daily stuff,” Langeliers said. “You take that all in and try to pass it on to the next guy and get better as a group.”

Again tasked with working with a young pitcher, Langeliers figures to be the battery mate Wednesday with right-hander Joey Estes (2-3, 5.24 ERA).

The losing pitcher in a 5-2 road defeat to the Angels last week, Estes allowed two runs and three hits in 5 2/3 innings in the game, his first career outing against the Angels.

The 22-year-old has given up a total of just four runs and eight hits in 11 2/3 innings in his last two starts.

The Angels have scheduled right-hander Davis Daniel (1-0, 0.00 ERA) for his second start after a splashy season debut last Thursday, when he shut out the Detroit Tigers over eight innings, striking out eight.

The outing was the 27-year-old’s first major league start after having pitched three times in relief for the Angels last season. He threw the final five innings, allowing two hits and no runs, in a 5-1 home win over the A’s last September in his first big league win.

Daniel benefited in working with O’Hoppe, who contributed a hit and a caught stealing to the 5-0 win on Thursday.

He ran his hitting streak to six games with Tuesday’s two-hit effort. Like his counterpart in Oakland, the 24-year-old does more than just hit.

“He is our captain,” teammate Taylor Ward said of Daniel. “He is the leader of this team. I believe wholeheartedly in him. He’s a leader. A born leader.”

O’Hoppe has never faced Estes but hit .324 in June. He has six multi-hit games in the past 30 days.

–Field Level Media