After essentially no competitive at-bats in 2020, and coming off a .278/.340/.474 BA/OBP/SLG line at AA Mississippi in 2019, 22 year old Cristian Pache was called upon in 2021 to fill the outfield spot opened by the retirement of Nick Markakis.
When you see it written down like that, it’s not so hard to see why it didn’t work out. Pache lasted for all of 68 plate appearances, posting a .111/.152/.206 line. Cristian has a reputation as a tremendous defensive center fielder, but nobody is overcoming that offensive performance.
The good news is that Cristian is not really as bad as his limited 2021 trial looked (nobody is.) Pache has over 900 minor league at-bats above A ball, posting a .274/.331/.446 in 496 AA at-bats, and a .267/.331/.413 in 416 AAA at-bats. He has hit 12 homers at each of the AA and AAA levels and has a combined total of 17 steals against an astounding 20 caught stealing.
So, we have what projects to be a sub .250 MLB hitter, with single digit home run power, who has an excellent defensive reputation, but who needs some work with his base stealing skills. There’s reason to believe there’s still a little more there, though. First of all, Pache is still only 23 years old. He reached AA at age 19 and had a cup of coffee in AAA at 20. He lost his age 21 season to the Covid precautions. It’s very reasonable to think that another season at Gwinnett will give Cristian a chance to raise that baseline projection offensively.
I would not be upset if Pache were packaged for immediate help. I don’t think his ceiling is irreplaceably high. Otherwise, I’m happy to watch him climb up the age curve as a good bet to increase his value.