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Thoughts on Atlanta Braves prospect Cristian Pache

This morning Kris Willis, managing editor at Talking Chop (SB Nation’s Atlanta Braves community), asked me for my current thoughts on Braves outfield prospect Cristian Pache. Pache is certainly an intriguing prospect so let’s take a quick look.

The Braves signed Pache for $1,400,000 out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. He’s been pushed quickly, playing regularly as an 18-year-old in full-season ball in 2017 and more than holding his own. Pache ranked 12th on the pre-season Atlanta Braves Top 20 prospects list with this comment:

12) Cristian Pache, OF, Grade B: Age 18, signed for $1,400,000 in 2015 from Dominican Republic; hit .281/.335/.343 with 13 doubles, zero homers, 32 steals, 39 walks, 104 strikeouts in 469 at-bats in Low-A; young for the level; draws praise for outstanding defense, speed, athleticism; fun to watch especially in the outfield; raw as a hitter, aggressive approach and lack of power will be an issue at higher levels, though at his age he has time to compensate/develop; with his glove it will be tempting for the Braves to push him quickly but I think his bat would benefit from a one-level-at-a-time approach; could develop into an All-Star if the bat comes or a fifth outfielder/defensive sub if it doesn’t. ETA 2021.

Now we have 2018 data as well. What to make of it?

My main concern pre-season was power production but Pache has made progress there, hitting .285/.311/.431 this season in High-A with eight homers in 369 at bats. That tailed off after he was promoted to Double-A, where he hit .260/.294/.337 with one homer in 104 at-bats, a substantial drop obviously. But he’s still only 19 and Florida State League observers were optimistic that his power will continue to grow as he gains strength and experience. I don’t see any particular reason to doubt this.

Reviews on Pache’s defense are glowing, with speed, range/instincts, and arm strength all playing splendidly in center field.

He’s not a finished product in other ways: despite his speed he stole just seven bases while being caught eight times: the legs play better in the outfield than on the bases, but that should improve with more reps. He also has an aggressive hitting approach, with just 18 unintentional walks (he also got two intentional passes) against 90 strikeouts in 473 at-bats. He doesn’t have to be a walk machine but more selectivity would be nice as he faces pitchers who can change speeds more efficiently at higher levels.

Pache remains more of a tools-over-skills player but the tools are superb and the skills are showing signs of catching up. He also earns plaudits for his work ethic and drive to improve, attributes which only help of course.

Overall Pache did enough this year to bump his grade up a notch to B+. Rawness risk remains a factor and we should avoid the temptation to see another Ronald Acuna in him, but Pache’s profile reminds me of young Carlos Gomez.

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