The Braves have a loaded farm system, and it’s headed by top prospect Cristian Pache, who is the 11th ranked overall prospect in baseball, according to MLBPipeline’s rankings.
The center fielder is widely regarded as the best defensive player across all minor league levels, and some believe he would have been a Gold Glove Award winner if he were in the MLB last season. His offense has not caught up yet, but he’s shown tremendous strides in both his power and approach – a primary reason for his rise through the prospect ranks.
Pache will more than likely make his debut in 2020, and it could come rather early in the season if the Braves don’t add another outfielder. But if you want to see him on the field on as big of a stage there is, you may not have to wait that long. John Morosi of MLB.com reports that the Dominican National Team is expected to ask the Braves for permission to allow Pache to join their 25-man roster for the WBSC Olympic qualifier in March.
Olympic baseball news: The Dominican Republic is expected to ask permission for #Rays SS Wander Franco and #Braves OF @cristianpache25 to join roster for the @WBSC Olympic qualifier in March. Franco is the No. 1 prospect in @MLB, per @MLBPipeline. Pache ranks 11th. @MLBNetwork
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) January 16, 2020
Now, while nine times out of ten the Braves would probably have no problem with this, they may have a bit of an issue this time, given Pache’s value to the organization, and it is during spring training, which will be his best chance to show Alex Anthopoulos and the coaching staff how close he is to being major-league ready. However, if the Dominican Republic qualifies, it could turn into a larger time commitment.
Pache only played in 26 AAA games last season. While he was good, he was not dominant, and the Braves could feel like he’s months away from receiving the call. We will keep an eye on this going forward, but I’m hoping Atlanta does the right thing and allows him to compete if he wants. Representing your country, especially a small one that prides itself on baseball, is more significant than missing some spring training time. Plus, it’s not like he won’t be getting better while competing against top competition. With that being said, it’s also not uncommon for players to decline these invites.