Where it all started
Cristian Pache is a former Top Prospect in the Atlanta Braves system that was prematurely given up on by both them and the Oakland Athletics.
During Spring Training, Trade Wizard/Phillies President of Baseball Operation Dave Dombrowski traded little-known pitcher Billy Sullivan to the Oakland Athletics for right-handed outfielder Cristian Paché.
The deal occurred on March 29th, 2023, a day, if not hours, before the Phillies' road opener against Jacob DeGrom and the Texas Rangers.
The Phillies have acquired CF Cristian Pache from OAK in exchange for RHP Billy Sullivan, President of Baseball Operations David Dombrowski announced today.— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) March 29, 2023
Is this another highly regarded prospect let go too early?
How It Began and How It Went
Originally, Pache signed with the Atlanta Braves in July 2015 for $1.4 million in the International Signing period out of Santo Domingo Centro, Dominican Republic.
From 2016-2019 Cristian Pache worked his way up through the Atlanta farm system. He hit .270 and higher from Rookie ball all the way up to Triple-A before being added to the 40-man roster during the 2019 off-season.
Cristian solidified himself as a top outfield prospect for the Bravos and would be the future alongside Ronald Acuña Jr. and Marcell Ozuna. Pache reached the 12th overall prospect in baseball according to MLB's Top 100 Prospect Rankings in 2021.
His time in the minors led him to be called up to the Majors during the Covid-shortened 2020 season. Over two games, he hit .250 with one hit and no RBIs. It was not until the 2020 playoffs, where he made the Atlanta roster that he tallied his first extra-base hit and major league RBI.
During 2021, Pache only played 22 games and hit an abysmal .111 BA, with one homer and four RBIs with a .152 OBP and a .206 SLG. This result was less than stellar for a highly touted prospect. He would eventually make the playoff roster due to Jorge Soler's Covid diagnosis but would be traded during the offseason after they won the 2021 World Series.
In Early 2022, Cristian Pache would be packaged with Shea Langeliers, Ryan Cusick, and Joey Estes to acquire Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics.
Cristian Pache's defensive prowess was displayed with both Atlanta and Oakland:
And his speed...
Pache received the most significant reps in the majors with the A's in 2022. He batted .166 AVG, .218 OBP, .241 SLG, .459 OPS with 3 HR and 18 RBIs in 91 games with the Oakland Athletics. Pache hit over .300 during Spring Training to award him the starting centerfield job, but Manager Mark Kotsay demoted him by the summer.
And now we arrive in South Philadelphia for the 2023 Season.
The 24-year-old outfielder has made his way to the City of Brotherly Love. In his first few games as a Phillie, he did not impress going hitless, and the looming possibility of him being a bust was circling.
However, with some hard work and some sessions with hitting coach Kevin Long, Pache started hitting.
Cristian Pache's first homer as a Phillies gives them the lead! pic.twitter.com/Xirj5vih32— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 22, 2023
He kept going up until he tore his meniscus on April 28th against the Houston Astros. He injured himself, making an awkward break back to second base, which has him out for 4-6 weeks.
Phillies say Pache left tonight's game with a right knee injury.— Alex Coffey (@byalexcoffey) April 29, 2023
This injury to Pache could not have come at the worst time because he was making so much progress and hitting at the rate he was always projected.
In 18 games this season, Pache slashed a .360 BA, .360 OBP, .600 SLG, .960 OPS with one home run, and 4 RBIs with an OPS+ of 160. Also, he stated he was playing his best baseball in Philadelphia and felt tremendous support from his teammates.
With Pache on the IL, he will supposedly return in 4-6 weeks, so mid to late June at the earliest. His return might indicate Bryce Harper's return to the field, specifically his First Base debut for the Phillies.
If Pache consistently hits the way he has this season, he could become the Phillies' everyday left fielder. This will allow Brandon Marsh to become the everyday centerfielder and move Kyle Schwarber to the permanent DH role. The DH can switch between Harper and Schwarber and give Marsh or Pache the night off, depending on the matchup that Rob Thomson wants to play.
Pache's return will be crucial to the flexibility and effectiveness of this ball club. Overall, Cristian Pache can break out and make a name for himself in Philadelphia. Phans should eagerly await his return this summer.