The A’s landed their potential 2022 opening day center fielder in the prospect haul from the Braves for Matt Olson on Monday, getting defensive whiz Cristian Pache.
Pache ranked No. 204 on our RotoProspects Top 500 Rankings before the trade, but falls a few spot to No. 207 due to the downgrade to Oakland’s pitcher-friendly ballpark. He goes from the Braves’ No. 7 prospect to No. 7 on the A’s list.
The Braves signed Pache out of the Dominican Republic for $1.4 million as a 16-year-old, already lauded for his defensive prowess. It was thought that he would develop power and use his blazing speed to become a 20-20 Gold Glove center fielder. That development hit a snag last year when Pache hit .111 in 22 games for the Braves and struggled in Triple-A before picking up steam down the stretch.
The A’s are hoping his struggles in the majors last season was just a case of being rushed and a small sample size. They will hope to clean up Pache’s approach at the plate, which saw him striking out way too much (36.8% in Atlanta, 27.5% in Triple-A) last season.
Since Pache’s best offensive attribute is his speed, playing in Oakland’s spacious ballpark may help him get more extra-base hits if not as many homers as may have been expected in Atlanta.
Things have changed in Oakland since the Moneyball days when stolen bases were frowned upon, as Starling Marte swiped 25 bases in 56 games last season after being acquired in a midseason trade.
That defensive prowess should help Pache at least get a lot of volume as well as the fact that Oakland’s nowhere near as loaded in the outfield as Atlanta. If he can translate his 70-grade speed into more steals, there’s still a chance he reaches that original 20-20 Gold Glove ceiling.
But with a below-average hit tool, Pache’s fantasy usefulness will be hindered by what will likely be an average below .250 unless the A’s are able to unlock something.