Despite his early fights in the Majors, Cristian Pache remains a key part of the future of the Braves. A performance like the one on Thursday night is the reason.
The No. 11 MLB prospect scored two goals at home and led in four points during a three-shot performance when triple-A Gwinnett overtook Memphis, 11-0. Pache was in his fifth game with the Stripers after spending April and May in the Majors – and on the injury list.
Gwinnett manager Carlos Mendez believes early season fights in the Majors have become something more.
“I thought Cristian was doing a better job with his approach [in the Majors] before he got hurt again, “Mendez said.” But from what I saw, he wasn’t hitting the fastball. I just think the pressure has started to build and has affected his confidence and his approach to the plate. “
Awarded to Gwinnett on June 2 after his second stint in IL, Atlanta’s top prospect had gone 5 of 18 (.278) with two RBI in his first four games in the Minors. Pache connected to his first home run at center left in the third inning, hit a single left RBI in the seventh and closed the score with a two-point shot to center left in the ninth. It was the first multi-homer match of his career and his second four RBI test of the season, the first coming with Atlanta on May 1.
“When he came down [to Gwinnett], we knew he needed to get back to hitting the fastball, “Mendez said.” The only thing we did mechanically was to put our hands in a better place to attack. All of his hits today have been off slider and off speed, but he was timing the fastball well and right on it. He just needs to regain that confidence. “
Signed as an international free agent in 2015, Pache put together three solid campaigns in the Minor League before breaking out in 2019. The Dominican Republic native set career highs in most offensive categories and hit triple A at 20. . Pache took part in the 2019 Futures Game and ended the season with a .277 / .340 / .462 cutting line, 57 extra-base hits and 61 RBI in 130 games.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound spent most of 2020 at the Braves’ alternative training site and made his Major League debut last August. Though he struggled during Spring Training, Pache broke court with Atlanta and was the center winger on the club’s Opening Day before a tense crotch cost him three weeks. He hit 12 times in 33 at-bats on his return and was re-placed on the injured list on May 14 with inflammation in his right hamstring.
“The only thing I can say about Cristian is that when he returns to the Majors, he will be mentally ready for it,” Mendez said. “That doesn’t mean he’s going to tear it apart, but he’ll be prepared on how to deal with it. There have been a lot of good players who had to figure out that part before success came. When he does he starts clicking, he’ll be fine.”