SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ronald Acuna was the dominant performer in the Arizona Fall League a year ago, winning MVP honors while leading the Peoria Javelinas to the championship. The Braves have sent another five-tool outfielder to Arizona this fall, and while Cristian Pache doesn't have the same superstar ceiling, his
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Ronald Acuna was the dominant performer in the Arizona Fall League a year ago, winning MVP honors while leading the Peoria Javelinas to the championship. The Braves have sent another five-tool outfielder to Arizona this fall, and while Cristian Pache doesn't have the same superstar ceiling, his all-around potential was evident in a 4-2 win over the Scottsdale Scorpions on Thursday night.
Pache opened the scoring with an RBI triple in the first inning against right-hander J.B. Bukauskas (Astros), one of the league's best pitching prospects, and drove in the second run with a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Acclaimed as the best defensive outfielder in the Minor Leagues, he also made a nice running catch of an Abraham Toro (Astros) drive to the warning track in center field in the second inning.
2018 Arizona Fall League rosters
Signed out of the Dominican Republic for $1.4 million in 2015, Pache has well-above-average speed that currently translates better in center than it does on the basepaths. He also has a plus arm that stands out at a position not known for strong throwers, solid hitting ability and underrated power. His pop gets less attention than the rest of his tools, but an American League assistant GM predicted this week that Pache would be hit 20-plus homers on an annual basis in his prime.
At 19, Pache is the second-youngest player in the Fall League behind only Surprise Saguaros third baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays). Pache reached Double-A as a teenager and batted .279/.307/.410 with nine homers and seven steals in 122 games between Double-A Mississippi and Class A Advanced Florida this season. In Arizona, he's hitting .290/.318/.387 in 14 contests.
"I feel pretty good about how I've played," Pache said via shortstop Ray-Patrick Didder (Braves), who translated for him. "I like the opportunity to play in a higher league and I've adjusted and it's working out for me ...
"Obviously, one of my best tools is my defense. I'm just trying to be aggressive, be on time and anticipate plays."
The Javelinas stretched their winning streak to five games and improved their AFL-best record to 14-6, giving them a six-game lead over Glendale and Surprise in the West Division. Four Peoria pitchers combined for 12 strikeouts, with right-hander Jon Olczak (Brewers) notching five whiffs in two scoreless innings with a nasty slider.
Scottsdale didn't score until first baseman Darick Hall's (Phillies) two-run homer off left-hander Daniel Brown (Brewers) with two out in the bottom of the ninth. The Scorpions wasted a strong start from Bukauskas, who sat at 94-97 mph with his fastball and backed it up with his trademark wipeout slider, while allowing one run in five innings. At 9-11, Scottsdale trails the first-place Salt River Rafters by three games in the East Division.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.