“The boys can do this this year,” minor-league shortstop Braden Shewmake said about what he and his teammates texted one another during that time. “They’re hot right now.”
Some of the names in that Double-A group chat: Shewmake, Harris, catcher Shea Langeliers, outfielder Justin Dean, outfielder/first baseman Greyson Jenista, catcher Drew Lugbauer. There were more. They all blew up one another’s phones with texts about the big-league Braves’ sensational October.
“It was amazing because we kind of felt that a little bit in Double-A and kind of knew what it felt like,” Harris said. “But to be at that level, it had to be amazing. To just get hot and make it look easy like they did, it had to be so fun.”
Many of the minor leaguers in that group chat felt extra invested in the MLB postseason because they reported to big-league camp the previous February. Langeliers, Harris, Shewmake and others spent tons of time around the guys who eventually put themselves atop the baseball world by defeating the Brewers, Dodgers and Astros to earn a ring. Harris said it felt like he had a small part of the championship because he helped get the big leaguers ready for the season.
With Ronald Acuña, Freddie Freeman and more on their roster, the Braves entered camp with talent last season. “I think everybody knew that team had the potential to get hot and make a run,” Shewmake said. But to see it? Especially after a string of brutal postseason exits in years past? This made it sweeter for the Braves and their fans.
Harris, who grew up in Powder Springs and loved the Braves before entering their system, watched every moment of every game. Shewmake watched pretty much every game.
Langeliers, however, found himself closer to the action because the Braves kept him on their taxi squad throughout the postseason. He texted his Double-A teammates about his experiences and told them about the incredible atmosphere during the playoff games. He also said it prepared him to be a big leaguer in the future.
“I think it’s just being around those types of guys, how they go about every day, how focused they are,” Langeliers said at minor-league camp this week. “When you see that all the time, it wears off on you, and you start to pick up that and know what it takes to be there. Just paying attention, just being a sponge.”
As the big-league Braves rolled through the postseason, the minor leaguers from the Double-A group chat anxiously followed along. They commented on everything that went on and rooted for the big club every step of the way.
They might be minor leaguers, but they feel like they share in the accomplishment of winning a World Series.
“When you play for the Braves, people know who that is now because of the World Series,” Harris said. “You can’t deny it, we’re a good organization.”