The Next Phenom (Vol. 2): Cristian Pache

Since my last post on Wander Franco was received way better than I ever could’ve hoped I decided to try my hand again at this prospect analysis thing again. I’ve decided to target high risk but high reward prospects in my analysis because guys who are already in AA or above are generally well-known throughout the prospect community and don’t really need to be written about anymore. Next guy on my list is Cristian Pache outfielder for the Atlanta Braves. Pache signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2015 for a $1.5 Million signing bonus. He is currently 19 years old playing for the A+ Braves’ affiliate the Florida Fire Frogs. He is a player that I pinpointed in my recent prospect draft in my flair league and think he’s a guy that most people in Dynasty or Keeper formats that put an emphasis on prospects should put on their list to acquire.

Scouting Report

Pache is 6’2”, 185 lbs. By all reports, he has a very slender build and should be able to add more muscle on his frame as he matures with minimal effect on his speed and athleticism. His calling card is his speed and defense. Defensively he is already a Gold Glove caliber defender in CF with excellent routes and reactions. He likes to play shallow but has the speed to easily play balls behind him. He also has a plus throwing arm from centerfield further adding to his Gold Glove-caliber defense which should allow him to be a big-league starter regardless of how his bat develops. His speed, which I touched on a bit, is plus-plus with reported times to first around 4.1 s (The MLB average for a RHH is 4.62s). He has shown the ability so far to use that speed on the base paths with 32 SB last season in full-season A ball. Unfortunately, it is hard to judge base stealing ability in the minors due to the extremely high variance of catcher abilities but with his speed and the right coaching, it should develop into a potentially 40 SB threat every year.

Since this is analysis should have a big fantasy slant to it I should probably get into the main course of the scouting report, his bat. At the moment he is graded with an above average hit tool but below average game power. His raw power though is graded as above average, so it should only take some swing changes and maturity to raise that power potential. Before this season it was reported that he had made a swing change. Early in this career, he was transferring all his weight to his front foot prior to the pitch arriving. This has a huge detriment on power and for a guy like Pache, who doesn’t have the elite power of Eloy Jimenez or Vlad Jr, he needs to maximize the weight transfer to maximize his power potential. After hitting 0 HR through his first two seasons he has finally broken through thanks to a swing change and has hit 8 dingers through 91 games. Pache will never be a guy who hits 30+ home runs but at his peak should be around 20-25 with game-changing speed and defense.

2016 R 30 122 0 12 10 4 5.7% 10.7% 0.070 0.376 0.333 0.372 0.404
2016 R 27 114 0 16 11 7 5.3% 9.6% 0.094 0.313 0.283 0.325 0.377
2017 A 119 514 0 60 42 32 7.6% 20.2% 0.062 0.360 0.281 0.330 0.343
2018 A+ 91 380 8 46 40 7 3.7% 17.6% 0.149 0.331 0.287 0.311 0.435

Obviously, the first thing that pops up in this profile is his sudden power increase this season with 8 homeruns this year compared to 0 in his first two seasons. His ISO has also doubled and slugging increased as well (though not as much as you’d expect with the increase in home runs). Pache has been described as a very aggressive hitter which is backed up by the low walk percentages. I think Pache needs to take a more patient approach at the plate to draw more walks and utilize his speed (very common problem with younger players but not a sure thing it can improve). Even though his walk percentage is low and with his aggressive approach, you must love that the K% isn’t higher than it is. Pache is reported to shorten up his swing with two strikes to make contact to reduce K’s and that seems to be working for him.

Going further into his batted ball profile, he isn’t hitting that many more fly balls (28.2% compared to 30.1% this year) but he is pulling the ball 8% more than 2017. He’s always been a pull hitter and that has increased every season. I don’t think he suddenly started hitting homers because of basically following a similar batting profile that he has had his entire young career. This is more indicative to a swing change allowing more hard contact (unfortunately Fangraphs doesn’t have Hard% for minor league players so unable to add stats to back up my thought process here). I also want to point out how ridiculously high his infield fly ball percentage is throughout his career: 30.4% and 18.8% in 2016 across two Rookie leagues, 31.0% in 2017, and 34.1% this year. This is a little concerning to me but also indicative of his fly ball approach. The hope is that as he matures and maximizes his swing that fly ball approach will lead to more home runs thus lowering the IFFB% to a more respectable percentage around 15%.

There are two players that come to mind for comparisons with Pache. The first is his potential teammate in Ender Inciarte. Probably a boring comparison but Inciarte is a start defensive CF who has been a solid fantasy contributor. I think Pache has the potential to be a better version of Inciarte with more power and slightly more SB (though Inciarte was at a torrid pace this season). Thus far in Inciarte’s career, he has had a BB% around 7% and K% around 12% which are not far off Pache’s current profile. The other comparison that comes to mind for Pache is a player that simultaneously give Fantasy owners arousal approaching Kate Upton titty levels (damn you Verlander) and pounding your head against the wall in frustration. This enigma of a player is, of course, Byron Buxton. Buxton has all the talent in the world but just can’t put it together consistently. I know it’s terrifying that I make this comparison but Pache’s tools closely resemble Buxton’s but I don’t think Pache will have the consistency issues.

I am a huge believer in Pache and think he has the opportunity to be a perennial All-Star with 20 home runs and 40 SB in addition to a good average, making him a 5 category producer potentially. He is not without some risk–but in fantasy, you must believe in upside and take risks. He is a guy that should be grabbed in all dynasty leagues and if you already own him, cheers to our future stud!

Please let me know what you think of my analysis and if there are any prospects you would like to see be written about.

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