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A’s No. 2 prospect Shea Langeliers excited for Aviators season

Aviators catcher Shea Langeliers has been in Las Vegas for only a couple of days but already is enjoying his new home.

“It’s been awesome so far,” the 24-year-old said. “The weather right now is unbeatable. It feels amazing outside. Let’s get it going.”

Recently acquired as part of the Matt Olson trade to the Braves, Langeliers hasn’t experienced the triple-digit summers of the desert yet, so his stance on the weather might change. But with the Athletics in full rebuild mode, Langeliers and the rest of the Aviators represent the franchise’s future and are eager to get it started.

The season begins Tuesday when the Aviators host the Reno Aces at 7:05 p.m. at Las Vegas Ballpark. Left-hander Zach Logue will start for the Aviators against right-hander Ryne Nelson.

“We do have a younger mix than we have in years past,” manager Fran Riordan said. “But it’s exciting. The athleticism is better than it has been the last couple years, so to have those young guys in — the versatility, the speed, the athleticism — it’s going to be a good situation.”

Las Vegas will feature several of Oakland’s top prospects, but Langeliers is the most highly touted. The former Baylor catcher is ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the A’s farm system.

Riordan said Langeliers is catching extra bullpen sessions to build chemistry with his new pitchers and learn their tendencies. Right-hander Parker Dunshee said Langeliers’ game-managing and defensive abilities are apparent.

But his glove isn’t the only thing impressing his new teammates.

“His batting practice was jaw-dropping,” outfielder Mickey McDonald said. “One of the more special batting practices I’ve ever seen. He hits the ball so hard all over the field.”

Langliers isn’t the only top prospect on the Aviators’ opening-day roster. Middle infielder Nick Allen, a third-round pick in 2017, started spring training as Oakland’s No. 3 prospect and is now No. 5 after the Olson trade.

Allen is joined in the infield by Vimael Machín, who spent time with the A’s in 2020 and 2021. And infielders Drew Jackson, Dalton Kelly, Christian Lopes and veteran Eric Thames were reassigned to the Aviators on Monday but won’t be on the roster for Tuesday’s opener.

“They’re great guys, great teammates,” Allen said. “I’m ready to suit up with them and play winning baseball.”

The outfield is also littered with prospects. Luis Barrera, Oakland’s No. 27 prospect, spent time with the MLB club during 2021.

McDonald might be the most intriguing player in the group. Riordan said he was one of the team’s top performers during the offseason and spring training. The outfielder wasn’t selected for the player pool after the 2020 minor league season was canceled, but returned from the hiatus much improved.

He credits the break for allowing him to focus on his craft.

“We’ve basically got four center fielders playing all over the outfield,” McDonald said.

The pitching staff might be the team’s biggest question mark. The Pacific Coast League is notoriously hitter-friendly, and Logue, Oakland’s No. 23 prospect, is the only pitcher in the A’s top-30 rankings on the Aviators’ roster.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita

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