Wyatt Langford’s upbringing, work ethic and humility turned him into ‘championship player’

The newest Rangers prospect quickly rose up MLB draft boards by staying true to his authentic self.

Wyatt Langford will be in Arlington this week when the Texas Rangers host the first-place Tampa Bay Rays. And at some point, after he signs his contract, he’ll be publicly unveiled as the Rangers’ next great baseball hope.

There’ll be a jersey presentation. There’ll be photos. There’ll be interviews. All of the pomp and circumstance that comes along with a grand introduction.



Langford, a junior outfielder from the University of Florida, will graciously partake. But all of that isn’t what excites him. It never has.

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Here’s what does: Langford is expected to take batting practice at Globe Life Field after he signs.

That excites him. To prepare, Langford spent Wednesday and Thursday in Gainesville, practicing in Florida’s hitting facilities.


That, those who’ve worked with Langford say, is his authentic self.

“He’s never going to quit, he’s never going to change,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “That’s just Wyatt. I’m just telling you, he’s different.”


Different enough to rise from a small town to the top of MLB draft boards in three years with work ethic and humility. Different enough to turn in one of the best seasons in Florida history as a sophomore, double-down as a junior and play his way into his desired professional landing spot as the Rangers’ first round pick (fourth overall) in last week’s MLB draft.

Different because, really, nothing is different.

“The one thing about Wyatt is he will never change,” O’Sullivan said. “No matter how successful he is, no matter how much money makes, he will never change. He will always be Wyatt, and that’s what makes Wyatt Wyatt.”

Florida's Matt Prevesk (43) is greeted by Wyatt Langford (36) after scoring during the 9th inning of Game 2 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals against LSU in Omaha, Neb., Sunday, June 25, 2023. (AP Photo/John Peterson)(John Peterson / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

A small town, homegrown swing

No, Trenton, Fla. is not a “one-stoplight” kind of town.

It’s a one-stoplight kind of county.

Trenton, a town of just over 2,000 with just under four total square miles of land, is on the southern border of Gilchrest County and about 30 miles west of Gainesville. Dairy, watermelon and peanuts are the big exports. There are more cows than people. Trenton Middle High, a 1A school in Florida, has a student enrollment of 605 and serves six grades.


The town’s Wikipedia page lists two notable natives. One is country music singer Easton Corbin.

The other is Langford.

“Wyatt is a have-not,” said John Colacci, coach of the Florida Hardballers travel program. “He’s the underdog that made it. He’s the one that, all these kids in these small areas, the majority of America that are middle class and below, he’s the one that gives them the opportunity to be like, ‘If Wyatt came out of that, I can make it.’”

Wyatt was raised in this rural town on a large spread of property with a barn and enough space for a kid to run wild. His father, Michael, was “always around” and “always stern.” Michael’s father didn’t tolerate disrespect.


It laid a baseline that stuck with Wyatt since his days at Trenton — where he was a three-sport athlete and a six-year varsity starter on the baseball team — to Florida, where he became one of college baseball’s best hitters and he led his team to a College World Series berth in 2023.

Michael believes his son, now 6-1, 220 pounds with five-tool potential, could have played professional soccer or Division I football if he’d chosen either route.

“I don’t know when baseball actually took over for him,” Michael said. “He just loves hitting home runs.”


Oh, he hit plenty. Michael still has a bucket of 60 or so home run balls from Wyatt’s 12-year-old season. He isn’t sure what to do with them, though they do represent the genesis of a Herculean hitter.

Michael taught Wyatt how to swing. Langford’s starts with his bat laid on or near his right shoulder to allow his lower body, not his hands, to generate power. Michael’s high school track and field coach introduced the concept of over-under training way back when, and Michael repurposed it into baseball terms for his son.

He rigged up specialized bats for the training. The idea was that swinging a heavier (or overloaded) bat would increase strength; swinging a lighter (or underloaded) bat would increase velocity.

Believe that? This prolific swing wasn’t taught by some private hitting coach, not even by a high school, travel or college coach. It was passed down like some Trentonian family tradition, from a track and field coach, to Michael and to Wyatt.


It’s about as small-town as it gets.

It’s gotten him this far. Check his 456-foot, 112 mile per hour home run against Virginia in the College World Series for proof.

“I think it goes back to his roots,” O’Sullivan said. “They never allowed him to be different as a child.”

Florida's Wyatt Langford (36) crosses the plate on his 3-run homer during the sixth inning of Game 2 of the NCAA College World Series baseball finals against LSU in Omaha, Neb., Sunday, June 25, 2023. (AP Photo/John Peterson)(John Peterson / ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Unwavering, quiet confidence

Langford went undrafted in the pandemic-shortened 2020 MLB draft. So he fulfilled his lifelong dream and attended nearby Florida.

Then he saw just four at-bats his entire freshman season.


Michael taught his son to always finish what he started. Wyatt stayed. He had always wanted to be a Gator.

All he had now was extra motivation.

“It made him work harder,” Trenton coach Scott Hall said. “He’d always been on the field, always played. It upset him; it made him work that much harder, that much more determined to set his goals and to go get ‘em.”

Langford returned to Florida for his sophomore season with 10 extra pounds of muscle, moved from the infield to the outfield, tied the program’s single season home run record (26), hit .355 and earned first-team All-American honors from


Then he did it again.

Langford slashed .373/.498/.784 with 21 home runs and 56 RBIs in 2023 for the Gators. He had more walks than strikeouts. And, despite entering Florida a catcher, finished his second season as an outfielder with just one career error.

Not much changed but the batting average.

“When you have the level of success he’s had, young people tend to change a bit,” O’Sullivan said. “This guy has not wavered one bit.”


Certainly not work ethic or humility. Point in case: at dinner with Langford this spring, Colacci shared a story. One Florida player had told Collaci that just Langford’s presence, and the way in which he carries himself, had turned him into a better player.

Langford’s responded without looking up from his porkchops: “Really? Huh.”

“I almost feel like he gets uncomfortable when you tell him how good he is, sing his praises,” Colacci said. “It’s like, ‘I just want to go out there and play baseball.’ It’s so crazy to see him keep that mindset all the way through.”


Maybe it’s not that crazy.

“He’s from a small town,” Hall said. “He’s just not a limelight guy. He’s real quiet, real reserved.”

In a phone call with The Dallas Morning News, Hall marveled at the size of signing bonuses for draftees. Langford’s is $7.6 million. The subject of gaudy, post-bonus purchases came up.

“That’s something I guarantee you Wyatt won’t do,” Hall said with a laugh. “He will not buy a Ferrari.”


That’s just not Wyatt.

Refusal to lose

O’Sullivan had to think about his favorite Wyatt Langford story. Gosh, look at what he did at Florida. How can you pick just one?

Then it came to him.


It was a groundball. In a loss.

In the second game of its regional tournament in Gainesville, Florida trailed Texas Tech 5-4 in the bottom of the ninth inning. With two outs and two strikes on his count, Langford chopped a routine groundball to shortstop that should have ended the game. He beat it out for an infield single.

O’Sullivan said that Langford averaged somewhere around 4.2 seconds from home plate to first base throughout the season. O’Sullivan estimated he reached in 3.9 seconds this instance.

“He refused to make the last out in a game,” O’Sullivan said. “He’s a championship player. There’s a lot of good players out there — a lot of great players — but championship players are what we’re looking for.”


Or, in Michael’s words: “When he says he can do something, don’t doubt it. He will die trying if he don’t.”

There was that time, in tee ball, when Wyatt’s teammate out-ran him when the coach instructed the players to run to the fence. Wyatt pleaded to Michael that if he had cleats, he’d have won. Wyatt returned the next day with a pair and reached the fence first.

Or that time when Wyatt, in a rec league baseball game, struck out. He spent the next hour on the Langford family property hitting off of a tee. He did the same this season at Florida after a similar kind of game.


“That’s just his work ethic,” Michael said.

It sounds a bit like Rangers All-Star third baseman Josh Jung, whose postgame batting practice in Globe Life Field became reflective of his mettle. And the quiet stoicism in the face of stardom? It sounds a bit like Rangers All-Star shortstop Corey Seager, rightfully dubbed a reserved superstar.

Maybe Texas has a type.

Maybe Langford does, too.


“Honestly, that’s where he wanted to go,” Michael said of the Rangers. “He didn’t want to go to those other places.”

He’s here now. The Rangers hope he sticks around for a while.

And after that?

“He’ll bide his time in the big cities throughout his career, and when it comes time to pack up camp and all, I probably imagine he’ll be right back somewhere around these small type of towns,” Michael said.


“It just never goes out of you.”

Certainly not in Wyatt’s case.

On Twitter: @McFarland_Shawn

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