The Atlanta Braves have promoted outfielder Cristian Pache, the organization's top prospect. The move comes after the Braves placed veteran outfielder Nick Markakis on the IL after possible exposure to COVID-19. Markakis has tested negative, but the Braves deactivated him as a precautionary measure. Markakis had initially opted out of the 2020 season because of concerns about he virus but later decided to rejoin the club.
As for the 21-year-old Pache, he was originally signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. He owns a slash line of .283/.331/.404 across parts of four minor league seasons with 21 home runs and 58 stolen bases in 428 games. Last season, Pache put up an OPS of .802 at the Double- and Triple-A levels.
Coming into the 2020 season, our own R.J. Anderson ranked Pache as the No. 9 overall prospect in all of baseball. Here's what he wrote about Pache:
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 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.
The Braves right now could use help in the outfield. In addition to the loss of Markakis, phenom Ronald Acuna Jr. is on the injured list with wrist inflammation, and veteran center fielder Ender Inciarte has struggled badly thus far. Without question, the Braves aren't calling up their top prospect to have him sit on the bench (though he was not in Tuesday's starting lineup), and he also fills an acute need right now.
The Braves enter Tuesday's slate with a 14-10 record and a slim lead in the NL East.