The starting center field spot on the Atlanta Braves depth chart is not exactly secured for prospect Cristian Pache.
The Atlanta Braves are in the midst of Spring Training, getting ready for the 2021 season in hopes of making yet another deep postseason run. While the season did not end the way that Braves fans have hoped for, they did get a chance to get a glimpse of their future in Cristian Pache.
Even though he received his big league experience in the NLCS against the Los Angeles Dodgers, he is still not guaranteed the starting center field spot alongside Ronald Acuña Jr. and Marcell Ozuna. While manager Brian Snitker would not call it a competition, Pache will have to contend for the starting role alongside veteran Ender Inciarte.
A strong Spring Training could secure Opening Day spot for Pache
A competition between Pache and Inciarte is a wise move by the Braves. It is best to see how both play during exhibition games prior to the start of the regular-season before placing a player at the top of the depth chart.
Pache did not have the opportunity to play in the minor leagues last season due to the coronavirus pandemic. He did earn a start in late August against the Philadelphia Phillies, but was sent back to the alternate training site after Nick Markakis returned from the injured list. Pache got his second chance in Game 1 of the NLCS after Adam Duvall suffered an oblique injury that subsequently ended his season.
In his extended postseason stay on the major league roster, the Braves prospect slashed .182/.280/.364 with one home run, four RBI, four hits and four runs scored.
As for Inciarte, he is coming off a down 2020 campaign, where he recorded a .190 batting average and .512 OPS along with one home run and 10 RBI. While Inciarte did struggle at the plate, he made up for it in the field. On 72 total chances, the veteran committed only one error (.986 fielding percentage).
With the season being filled with such great expectations, the Braves have to be sure they are putting out the right players for Opening Day. While Pache has all the makings to be Atlanta’s starting center fielder for the foreseeable future, they want him to earn the job in Spring Training.