Cristian Rafael Pache
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 2", Weight 185 lb.
OF Cristian Pache was originally signed by the Atlanta Braves as an undrafted free agent on July 4, 2015, when he was still 16 years old. He began his pro career the next year with the GCL Braves and Danville Braves, hitting a solid .309/.349/.391 in 57 games, with 7 triples. In 2017, he spent the season with the Rome Braves of the South Atlantic League. In spite of being among the youngest players in the circuit at 18, he had another very good year, with a batting line of .281/.335/.343 in 119 games. He scored 60 runs and stole 32 bases and hit 13 doubles and 8 triples, but no homers. He was named a mid-season All-Star and an organizational All-Star.
In 2018, Cristian spent most of the year in the Florida State League with the Florida Fire Frogs, but also received a late-year promotion to AA, where he played 29 games with the Mississippi Braves. It was another good year, as he hit .279/.307/.410 in 122 games. He hit his first homers as a pro - 9 of them - in addition to 23 doubles and 6 triples. However, he stopped stealing bases, being just 7 for 15 in that department. He repeated as both a mid-season All-Star (in the FSL) and an organizational one, and after the season played in the Arizona Fall League, confirming his status as a top prospect. In 2019, he started the season with Mississippi and after 104 games, got a first look at AAA ball with the Gwinnett Stripers. he was selected to play for the National League prospects in the 2019 Futures Game and finished the year at .277/.340/.474 as he continued to fill out his body and produce like a corner outfielder, and not a scrawny lead-off type. He had 36 doubles, 9 triples and 12 homers in 130 games, scored 63 runs and drove in 61. He was both a mid-season and a post-season All-Star in the Southern League.
He made his debut with the Braves on August 21, 2020 and went 1 for 4 in 2 games during the regular season as he spent most of his time at the team's alternate training site. However, he was added to the team's postseason rosters, in place of mainstays like Ender Inciarte and Johan Camargo, who had badly underperformed during the season. He scored the winning run in the Braves' 13-inning, 1-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the Wild Card Series, after having been inserted as a pinch-runner for Nick Markakis. He was thrust into a bigger role in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers when starting LF Adam Duvall pulled an oblique muscle in Game 1 and had to be substituted. He took over for him, playing center field, with the other two outfielders shifting around to accommodate him. He hit his first career homer in Game 3 of the series, off Julio Urias, making him just the 7th player, and 3rd position player after Frank Demaree and Melvin Mora, to do so.
After starting the 2021 season as the Braves' starting centerfielder, he was sent down to the alternative training site after hitting .133 in his first 11 games. He was called back on May 1st, and his first at-bat connected for his first career regular season homer, a grand slam off Tommy Milone of the Toronto Blue Jays. It was however a rare highlight in a season in which he hit just .111 in 22 games, with no other homer or RBI. The Braves eventually built themselves an entirely new outfield by mid-season, because of his lack of production, an injury to Ronald Acuna, and the suspension of Marcell Ozuna - and it led them into the postseason. Pache was added to the roster to serve as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement, but only saw action in two postseason games - none in the World Series - as the Braves won only their second title since moving to Atlanta.
Following the world championship, there was some question regarding Pache's future role, given that the Braves were now loaded with veteran outfielders. The answer to that question came on March 14th when he was the principal chip in a trade to acquire All-Star 1B Matt Olson from the Oakland Athletics. Three other players were sent to the A's in addition to him, C Shea Langeliers and Ps Ryan Cusick and Joey Estes, but he was clearly the one most likely to help the A's in the immediate. Indeed, he was the A's starting center fielder on Opening Day and a solid contributor on both sides of the ball as the team got off to a much better start than anyone anticipated, going 7-5 in their first 12 games. Pache usually batted 9th, reducing the pressure on him. His outstanding speed was on display in a game against the Tampa Bay Rays on April 14th when he hit what looked like a routine single with runners on first and second with two outs. LF Randy Arozarena misplayed the ball, pushing it with his glove out of the reach of CF Kevin Kiermaier who was backing him up, and Cristian was off to the races, running all the way home on a three-run "Little League homer" that was key to a 6-3 win. He only received credit for one RBI, however, as the other two tallies were due to the Rays outfielders' generosity. However, after these early heroics, a familiar problem surfaced again - his inability to maintain a decent batting average. He played 91 games but hit only .166 and slugged .241, for an OPS+ of 34.
- Paul Casella: "Phils deal for defensive whiz Pache from A's", mlb.com, March 29, 2023. 
- Martín Gallegos: "Pache winning over A's with energy, glove -- and flair: 'He's good'", mlb.com, April 20, 2022.