Following placing veteran outfielder Nick Markakis on the IL after possible exposure to COVID-19, the Braves are promoting their number one prospect, outfielder Cristian Pache on Wednesday. Pache, MLB Pipeline’s 14th overall prospect, will start in left field to make his major league debut against the Nationals tonight, according to Jon Morosi.
The 21-year old Pache was signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 as a budding teenage superstar. Across four minor league seasons, he had a slash line of .283/.331/.404 with 21 home runs and 58 stolen bases in 428 games. He played at the Double-A and Triple-A levels last season, where he owned an .802 OPS.
Pache has more power potential than in the 21 homers he had over four seasons, but his outfield defense is already very Major League ready. He is known as more of a free swinger and pull-happy hitter, but his walk numbers have seen an increase which is a good sign. According to FanGraphs, he pulled around 57 percent of his batted balls in 2019. There were just three qualified MLB hitters who had over 50 percent.
With the loss of Markakis, Ronald Acuña Jr. being out with wrist inflammation, and the struggles of Ender Inciarte, the outfield is a major need for Atlanta right now. Pache will come up and play almost every day, not just to ride the bench.
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