Ender Inciarte was busy winning three consecutive Gold Glove Awards for the Braves, but whispers around the organization were that he was not even the best defender in the organization. Many people believed that nod should go to top Braves’ prospect Cristian Pache. Now, he has flown up prospect lists, and executives have taken notice. According to a survey of multiple baseball executives, 48% of them believe that Pache is the best defensive prospect in baseball, by far the majority.
Pache seems primed to make his major league debut this season and should be viewed as the successor in center field going forward, barring any sort of trade. He has not quite torn up the basepaths as he did early in his minor league career, but Pache has 70-grade speed that allows him to cover the entire field and an absolute cannon for an arm. He has developed more power as he has undergone a body transformation over the past couple of seasons that should allow him to be a plus with the bat as well, and a very well-rounded ballplayer with multiple Gold Gloves in his sights. He has become a lot more selective at the plate, taking over twice as many free passes as he did last season. Think Ender Inciarte, with way more upside with the bat.
Pache, along with Waters could be the future of this outfield. Their future with this team could end up coming down to whether Josh Donaldson signs a deal. If so, Austin Riley will likely be kept in the outfield, and that will become too many mouths to feed. With that being said, it seems the Braves prefer to keep Ronald Acuna Jr. in right field going forward, and there is no denying that they highly value defense. Pache is a guy they will likely look to keep and watch out for a potential AAA breakout for him next season now that he got his feet wet late last season. If Ender Inciarte struggles again in 2020, we could be seeing him sooner rather than later.