ATLANTA -- Top prospect Cristian Pache and seasoned postseason veteran Pablo Sandoval were both part of the 28-man roster the Braves submitted before beginning their Wild Card Series against the Reds on Wednesday.
Braves manager Brian Snitker chose to carry 15 position players, including three catchers, and 13 pitchers during this best-of-three series. Pache, Sandoval, Johan Camargo and highly regarded catching prospect William Contreras will serve as the additions to a deeper bench Atlanta will possess within this opening round.
The most significant omission was three-time Gold Glove Award-winning outfielder Ender Inciarte, who hit just .190 during the regular season. By adding Pache, there was no longer a need to carry Inciarte to simply serve as a late-inning defensive replacement.
“I don’t know if we’ll use the [extra bench pieces] or not, but you’ve got to think we’ve still got 10 guys in the bullpen and you’ve got to hope that is enough,” Snitker said.
Pache played in two games and totaled just four plate appearances when he was promoted from the alternate training site to account for Nick Markakis’ COVID-19-related absence from Aug. 18-25. His offensive potential remains uncertain, but he has the tools to become one of the game’s best defensive outfielders.
Snitker will have the option to utilize Pache as a late-inning defensive replacement or pinch-runner. The 21-year-old outfielder ranks No. 10 among MLB Pipeline’s Top 100 Prospects.
Sandoval signed a Minor League deal on Sept. 13 after being released by the Giants on Sept. 10 and he was added to Atlanta’s roster for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Red Sox. The 2012 World Series MVP provides versatility as a switch-hitter.
Snitker said he plans to use Marcell Ozuna as his designated hitter during each of the three games played against the Reds. That means Travis d’Arnaud would likely serve as the catcher throughout this series.
If d’Arnaud were to be used as the DH for any of these three games, Contreras’ presence would be more vital. But carrying a third catcher creates some in-game insurance for Snitker.
Camargo hit just .200 in 35 games before being optioned to the alternate training site. His presence provides the Braves with another switch-hitter and some insurance if third baseman Austin Riley’s recently bothersome right quad continues to be a problem.
Here is the Braves' full Wild Card Series roster:
Pitchers (13): Max Fried, Ian Anderson, Kyle Wright, Tyler Matzek, Mark Melancon, Chris Martin, Will Smith, Shane Greene, Darren O’Day, A.J. Minter, Jacob Webb, Grant Dayton, Josh Tomlin
Catchers (3): Travis d’Arnaud, Tyler Flowers, William Contreras
Infielders (7): Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, Austin Riley, Charlie Culberson, Pablo Sandoval, Johan Camargo
Outfielders (5): Ronald Acuña Jr., Marcell Ozuna, Adam Duvall, Nick Markakis, Cristian Pache