The Braves have swung a blockbuster trade with the Athletics in back-to-back offseasons. We won’t know who won those trades for at least a few years, but to this point, none of the prospects the Braves dealt away have had much success at the major-league level. Shea Langeliers is the only player that’s even looked like a competent piece, but Cristian Pache shouldn’t be written off just yet.
The 24-year-old outfielder was once the top prospect in the Braves organization, known for his outstanding defense that many compared to Andruw Jones in his prime. That hasn’t been the issue, though. Once Pache made it to Atlanta, he couldn’t hit the broad sign of a barn with the bat. After a quick stint in the majors, he found himself back in Gwinnett, and in the blink of an eye, he was out of the organization altogether.
With the Athletics, Pache received a much longer tryout at the major-league level last season, but the issue was the same. Despite coming as advertised defensively, his offense was so putrid that he lost his job as an everyday player. Over 91 games in 2022, Pache hit a paltry .166 with an OPS of .459. He wasn’t just bad; he was the worst offensive player in the majors.
That was always going to be the thing with Cristian Pache. Could his bat ever catch up to his glove? He doesn’t need to hit .300, but nobody can last long in the majors if they can’t hit their own body weight. His offense must improve, and so far in Spring Training, he’s showing signs of turning a corner.
Over 28 at-bats, Cristian Pache has ten hits, including two triples and a double — good for a .915 OPS. I never want to overreact to such a small sample size, but he’s doing enough to earn the starting job in center field on what will be an abysmal Athletics team.
Hopefully, that offensive success can continue going into his second season. As a Braves fan, I never want to see the organization part ways with prospects that turn into All-Stars. With that being said, when it comes to Cristian Pache, I’ll always be rooting for him. He’s one of the most humble athletes across all sports, and despite his rough go of it to this point in his career, his attitude is unmatched. I really hope he figures it out in 2023, establishing himself as a major-league starter for years to come.
Photo: Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire