Braves: Cristian Pache still struggling in AAA

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Nobody was arguing before the season that Cristian Pache shouldn’t begin the season in the majors. He was the Braves top prospect, often compared to Andruw Jones for his defensive wizardry, and held his own just fine when thrust into action during last year’s NLCS, but it’s clear now that more questions should have been raised. After all, he only had 26 games of AAA ball under his belt coming into this season and received limited opportunities at the plate last year because of COVID. Now, the future of Pache in Atlanta is as cloudy as ever.

Pache dealt with a few injuries at the beginning of the season, but they can’t be blamed for his struggles at the plate. He hit just .111 for the Braves with one homer and four total XBHs in 22 games, resulting in a -0.7 WAR. Eventually, he hit the IL list for the second time, and he’s yet to return. The Braves decided it would be best for him to spend more time in AAA once he got healthy, but unfortunately, he hasn’t looked much better at the plate with Gwinnett.

Pache now has 23 games under his belt with the Stripers; he does have a couple of homers and six doubles, but he’s hitting just .213 with a .638 OPS. His strikeout rate is an incredibly high 36.8% — the same rate he recorded in the majors this season — compared to a walk rate of just 8%.

The sample size isn’t very large, but it’s fair to start worrying about whether Pache will be able to produce enough offensively to reach his full potential. We know what he can do with the glove, but that won’t matter if he struggles to hit .200 at the plate. Pache is still just 22-years-old, so there’s no reason to panic, but I wouldn’t expect to see him in the majors again until he puts together a few months in a row where he shows he can handle AAA pitching, meaning we probably won’t see him until 2022 at the earliest. For now, it’s best to temper expectations in hopes he shows some signs of improvement with the stick before the end of the season.

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