Pache trained with Valentin Monero in the Dominican.
In 2015, Pache got drafted by the Braves (see Transactions below).
In 2017, the Baseball America Prospect Handbook rated Cristian as the 13th-best prospect in the Braves organization. He was at #9 in the offseason before 2018 spring camp opened. And he was at #8 in the spring of 2019. He was the #1 prospect in the Braves' organization in the spring of 2020. And Pache stayed at #1 early in 2021. He was at #3 in the spring of 2022.
2017 season: Arguably the best defensive center fielder in the low minors, Pache showed a lot in his full-season debut. Even younger than Taveras, Pache showed the tools to succeed, but struggled in finding his power.
The 18-year-old right-handed hitter makes plenty of contact. He slashed .281/.335/.343, so getting on base wasn’t a major problem, nor was extending base hits, adding 32 stolen bases. Pache uses his speed well in the outfield. His cannon of an arm is as accurate as they come (17 assists).
2018 season: Pache has made progress 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.
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.
Cristian 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. ( John Sickels@MinorLeagueBall- Sep 24, 2018)
Cristian is a Gold Glove-caliber defender whose development at the plate will determine his ceiling. And during 2019 spring training he hit .359 with two home runs in 24 spring games.
“It’s been really cool to watch this kid the last three years—how he’s grown physically and mentally, where he’s at right now in his career,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “And, shoot, he’s not even scratched the surface of where he’s going to go.
“The defensive talents he has. That, coupled with improved hitting—a big, strong guy like that—all of a sudden the power starts developing. You see a frontline major league player there.”
“I feel like we’re beginning to see the fruits of all the work I’ve put in over the offseason and here in spring training,” Pache said through a translator. (Gabe Burns - Baseball America - May, 2019)
July 2019: Pache represented the Braves at the Futures All-Star Game.
2019 Season: At his best, Cristian Pache looks like a future star: a demon center fielder with more power potential than his 21 career home runs suggest. At his less-than-best, he still looks like a valuable player -- just one who may not add as much as hoped offensively.
Pache was having a breakout season before a late promotion to Triple-A, where some of his gains -- at least so far as lifting the ball and hitting for more power -- disappeared. He continued to walk more than usual, which is a welcomed sign for someone known as a free-swinger, but he remained as pull-heavy as ever.
Indeed, Pache pulled around 57 percent of his batted balls in 2019, according to FanGraphs. Only three qualified big-league hitters finished over 50 percent, and none higher than Max Kepler at 53.4 percent. Whatever works, but that kind of dependency on pulling the baseball could speak to a deficiency within his game.
Despite Pache's well-above-average speed, he hasn't yet morphed into a stolen-base threat -- not a good one, anyway. An 8-for-19 season (you read that correctly) leaves him with a 60 percent career success rate. That just isn't going to fly in the majors.
This isn't meant to be dismissive of Pache's ability to grow, either. He won't turn 21 until Nov. 19, and it's possible he taps into some of that power and learns the nuances of basestealing. It's just a reminder that even very good prospects like Pache -- who should develop into an above-average regular -- sometimes have flaws that need to be noted. (R.J. Anderson - CBS Sports - Nov. 11, 2019)
2019 Season: Cristian Pache has been drawing attention since retired 10-time Gold Glove Award winner Andruw Jones arrived at Spring Training two years ago and said Pache was already the best defensive outfielder in the Braves' organization. Over the past two seasons, the baseball world has realized why Jones extended such lofty praise upon the young prospect.
Ranked baseball’s No. 11 prospect overall and the top prospect within Atlanta’s system, Pache combined to hit .277 with 12 homers and an .802 OPS for Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. He produced a .747 OPS over the 26 games he played after earning a late-season promotion to Gwinnett. The center fielder, who turned 21 on Monday, has gained power potential as he has physically matured over the past two years. (M Bowman - MLB.com - Nov 20, 2019)
Jan 13, 2020: Cristian Pache was just 19 years old and had never played a game above the Class A level when Andruw Jones described him to be the best defensive outfielder in the Braves’ organization. This high praise from his idol has fueled Pache, who has appreciated the friendship he has developed with the man who won 10 straight NL Gold Gloves while playing center field for Atlanta.
“He’s spoken to me on social media and we’ve also spoken in person,” Pache said through an interpreter. “His advice has made me a better outfielder every day.”
Pache was among the many top prospects who attended MLB’s Rookie Career Development Program in Miami. The 21-year-old outfielder was counseled on a number of issues he could soon encounter once he reaches the Major League level. He will come to Spring Training looking to prove he will be ready to make the jump if necessary at some point this year.
When Pache becomes a big leaguer, he will proudly wear No. 25, the jersey number Jones wore while establishing himself as one of Atlanta’s most iconic players from 1996-2007. The former center fielder annually won a Gold Glove from 1998-2007 and now serves as a special assistant within Atlanta’s front office.
“When I wore that number my first year [in Spring Training], [Jones] said, ‘Tremendous number,'" Pache said. “And I told him, ‘Yes, I wear it because of you, because that inspires me a lot.' I’m wearing it and want to continue wearing it, because it fills me with pride to have that number on my back.”
MLB Pipeline ranks Pache as its No. 11 overall prospect, the top prospect within Atlanta’s organization and the game’s No. 3 outfield prospect, behind only Luis Robert (White Sox) and Jo Adell (Angels).
Pache’s meteoric rise has occurred since he came to Atlanta’s big league Spring Training for the first time in 2018 and was labeled the club’s best defensive outfielder. When Jones made this claim, Ender Inciarte had already won two of the three consecutive Gold Glove Awards he garnered for Atlanta from 2016-18.
But while Pache’s defensive skills have long been respected, his development into one of the game’s top prospects has been a product of the physical maturity that has allowed him to show his power potential over the past two seasons.
Pache’s promotion to Gwinnett in 2019 gave him and the club a better feel for how close he might be to being deemed Major League ready. He will likely begin the upcoming season at the Triple-A level. But there’s a chance he could get an early-season call to Atlanta, much like Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley have within the past two seasons. (M Bowman - MLB.com - Jan 13, 2020)
Aug 19, 2020: Cristian Pache's much-anticipated arrival came a little earlier than expected. But now that the club’s No. 1 prospect is at the big league level, the Braves are going to give him a chance to show why he may soon rank among the game’s best defensive outfielders.
“I know he’s going to be excited about being out here,” Braves manager Brian Snitker said. “He’s going to get gassed up and I’m excited about watching that kid play.”
Pache was set to make his Major League debut before the night’s game against the Nationals was postponed due to rain and rescheduled as part of a Sept. 4 doubleheader. He’ll now likely get his first big league action during the series opener against the Phillies.
Though Pache is not the once-in-a-generation kind of prospect Ronald Acuña Jr. was just a couple years ago, he certainly has the potential to be an impact player in Atlanta for many years to come, especially if he develops the power that has started to materialize within the past few seasons.
The 21-year-old outfielder ranks as MLB Pipeline’s No. 14 prospect.
“I just like to think of myself as a fun ballplayer who works really hard and gives maximum effort out there,” Pache said through an interpreter. “I like to think I put out that kind of performance where I leave it all out there on the field.”
Pache learned of his promotion as he was shagging balls in the outfield at Triple-A Gwinnett’s Coolray Field. He received word around 5:30 p.m. ET and arrived at Truist Park about an hour later. The late call came as a result of the Braves learning Nick Markakis may have been potentially exposed to COVID-19.
“You’d have thought he was in our starting lineup yesterday because by the time he got here he was out there running and getting loose like he was in the starting lineup then,” Snitker said. “That was a big deal just getting out in a big league uniform.”
Pache gained notice when he arrived at his first big league Spring Training in 2018 and was anointed the organization’s best defensive outfielder by Andruw Jones. This assessment was made just after Ender Inciarte had captured the second of his three straight Gold Gloves with Atlanta.
Jones has worked with Pache at Spring Training each of the past three years and has maintained regular contact with the young outfielder. The Braves legend sent his congratulations when the Pache was promoted.
“Andruw has seen him a lot more than I have over the past few years,” Snitker said. “Everybody who has seen him has been impressed with this kid. I’m excited to watch him.” (M Bowman - MLB.com - Aug 19, 22020)
MLB debut (Aug. 21, 2020): Pache is well-known for his great glove, but the 21-year-old hit .277 with 57 extra-base hits in 130 games across two levels of the Minors in 2019. He didn't quite get extra bases on his first big league hit, but he was all smiles and celebrating with his teammates all the same after the momentous occasion.
2020 Season: We have seen Pache go from one of the top international free agents (21st at the time of his signing in 2015) to becoming the league’s overall 10th rated prospect, to what now appears to be an impact major league player as soon as 2021.
After watching the debuts of Acuna, Albies, Swanson, and Riley it appears the future is now for Atlanta and Pache is 100% part of the discussion. The development of his bat remains to be seen, though he had some absolutely wonderful at-bats in the playoffs, you like what he’s changed over the past two years.
It’s definitely important to remember, for next year, to remain patient but defensively he’s already one of the best defenders in the league. It is safe to say that Pache will play a major role in the Braves present and future so let’s take a look at what he did in 2021, and what he has to offer us for 2021 and beyond.
What went right in 2020? Almost everything. Pache was thrust into the starting spot, after being on the taxi squad a majority of the season, following the injury to Adam Duvall. With Ender Inciarte playing very poorly, the Braves turned to the 21-year-old to man the outfield and become the anchor of the defense while also facing playoff caliber pitching—not exactly the ideal scenario for a proper debut.
All things considered, Pache played wonderfully putting together high-quality at-bats in the postseason while showing what he can do in the outfield. Pache had just four plate appearances before he found himself as the starting center fielder in the playoffs where he hit .182/.280/.364 with a 73 wRC+. Most impressively was the 12% walk rate he exhibited, often working deep counts and getting the pitchers pitch total up before turning the lineup over to Ronald Acuna.
If Pache is able to continue walking at a high rate while sustaining his batted ball profile of 2019 (~29% LD rate) and can lower his ground ball rate just a bit (47% in 2019), all the while playing other-worldy defense—well you have yourself a star in the making. Even if it doesn’t happen and he’s a league-average offensive center fielder, his defense is so good that he’s still an above-average center fielder so safe to say the future is extremely bright for Pache.
What went wrong in 2020? Honestly, not too much. The biggest struggle for Pache was not having playing time over Ender Inciarte. Ender did not perform to the level of a Major League regular and should have been replaced by Pache sooner in the season. That said, you also don’t want to rush him too soon and stunt his development. (Gaurav Vedak@gvedak - Nov 9, 2020)
2021 Season: Pache won the Opening Day job but struggled, got hurt, struggled some more and was then sent back to Triple-A.
The numbers weren’t pretty, either. A .111/.152/.206 line with a 36.8 percent strikeout rate just won’t play, no matter how good you are defensively. His return to Triple-A was not very inspiring either, but he did finish the season relatively strong.
- July 3, 2015: The Braves agreed to terms with the 16-year-old Pache, a free agent from the Dominican Republic. Pache received $1.4 million, via scout Matias Laureano.
- March 14, 2022: The Braves traded OF Cristian Pache, C Shea Langeliers, SP Ryan Cusick, and SP Joey Estes; acquiring 1B Matt Olson from the A's.