LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ender Inciarte has won consecutive Gold Glove Awards and Ronald Acuna Jr.'s glove might be just as impressive as the bat that has earned him the distinction of being one of the game's best prospects. But there are some in the Braves' camp who believe
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Ender Inciarte has won consecutive Gold Glove Awards and Ronald Acuna Jr.'s glove might be just as impressive as the bat that has earned him the distinction of being one of the game's best prospects. But there are some in the Braves' camp who believe teenager Cristian Pache might be the organization's best defensive outfielder.
"I don't know if he is the best, but he is really good, let's put it that way," Braves manager Brian Snitker said. "They say this kid can really go get it. They say he could probably play in the big leagues right now, defensively."
Pache also made a good early impression with his bat, as he recorded an RBI single during the eighth inning of the Braves' 6-2 loss to the Mets during Friday afternoon's Grapefruit League season opener at First Data Field. Pache ranks as the Braves' No. 10 prospect and barely missed gaining a spot on MLB Pipeline's latest Top 100 Prospects list. The 19-year-old outfielder physically matured over the winter and seems primed to prove more offensively advanced than he was last year, when he produced a .679 OPS and did not homer over 514 plate appearances for Class A Rome.
"He's going to get bigger and stronger," Snitker said. "I was watching him in [batting practice] the other day, just launching balls. They have stuff they're working with him on, and he's a specimen-looking kid."
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Pache was listed at 6-foot-2, 185 pounds last year. He came to camp this year noticeably bigger, with what appears to be 20 additional pounds of muscle.
Like Acuna last year, Pache will likely begin this season with Class A Advanced Florida. If Pache continues to benefit from his physical maturation, there is certainly a chance he could find himself teaming with Inciarte and Acuna to form Atlanta's outfield trio at some point during the 2019 season.
"You've just got to run him through the system," Snitker said. "It's kind of nice to have a young athletic guy."
Gomez ignited the radar gun
Rule 5 Draft selection Anyelo Gomez fired a few fastballs that touched 98 mph as he recorded a strikeout during a perfect fifth inning against the Mets. The 24-year-old right-hander induced a Jose Reyes pop fly and an Amed Rosario groundout before concluding his perfect frame with a Kevin Kaczmarski strikeout.
"That was pretty good, pretty impressive," Snitker said. "I heard that coming in, that this guy has a big arm. I watched him throw [side sessions] and was anxious to see him in a game. He was really good."
Gomez, who has made just one appearance above the Double-A level, is bidding to win one of the final spots in Atlanta's bullpen. The Braves will have to carry him on the active roster over the entirety of the upcoming season or offer him back to the Yankees for half of the $50,000 it cost to select him in December's Rule 5 Draft.
Acuna, who ranks second on MLB Pipeline's Top 100 Prospects list, didn't make the trip to Port St. Lucie, but he is slated to start in center field for Saturday's road game against the Astros and serve as the designated hitter on Sunday, when the Braves stay in West Palm Beach to play the Nationals.
When Acuna arrives at the Major League level, he'll likely play left field, at least until Nick Markakis' tenure with the Braves expires. This decision would be influenced by the fact that left field is more cavernous than right at SunTrust Park.
Snitker plans to play Acuna at each of the three outfield positions throughout the exhibition season.
Odds and ends
• Kolby Allard admitted he allowed his emotions to get the best of him as he issued a walk to begin Friday's fifth inning. But the 20-year-old southpaw gathered himself and managed to complete a scoreless inning with the help of right fielder Xavier Avery, who made a diving catch and threw to first base to complete a double play.
• The Braves allowed just two hits and issued just two walks before the Mets constructed their six-run eighth. The damage came against Miguel Socolovich, who allowed three hits and issued three walks, and Akeel Morris, who issued a pair of two-out bases-loaded walks.
• Dansby Swanson went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts and Rio Ruiz struck out in each of his three at-bats.
Along with Acuna, Sean Newcomb will also make his debut during Saturday afternoon's game against the Astros in West Palm Beach. Newcomb will be scheduled to complete one inning as he begins his bid for a rotation spot. Austin Riley, MLB Pipeline's No. 97 overall prospect, is slated to serve as the designated hitter.
Mark Bowman has covered the Braves for MLB.com since 2001.