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Defensive wiz Pache relishing challenge of AFL

October 24, 2018

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Not only has Cristian Pache been compared to Ronald Acuna Jr. defensively, but some have argued he's better."That's a fan's opinion," Pache, the Braves' No. 6 prospect, said through a translator. "I'm just playing baseball and that's a fan's opinion."Arizona Fall League overviews for all 30 teamsPache

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Not only has Cristian Pache been compared to Ronald Acuna Jr. defensively, but some have argued he's better.
"That's a fan's opinion," Pache, the Braves' No. 6 prospect, said through a translator. "I'm just playing baseball and that's a fan's opinion."
Arizona Fall League overviews for all 30 teams
Pache may not want to buy into that comparison, but he does possess an impressive toolset and is the best defender in the Braves' system. Pache, who checks in at No. 68 on the Top 100 Prospects list, is a 70-grade defender and uses his 70-grade speed to track down balls all over the outfield.
"It's fun to see him play on defense and offense," Braves prospect Ray-Patrick Didder said. "Once the ball is in the air and it's in the outfield, every pitcher will be fine with that because you know Pache is out there -- even the balls in the gap, you know Pache is going to get it."
At the plate, Pache put together another strong season. The 19-year-old hit .279/.307/.410 over 122 games with Class A Advanced Florida and Double-A Mississippi.
Additionally, he started to flash some power -- a tool he had yet to tap into. After failing to homer over his first two seasons (689 at-bats), Pache went deep nine times in 2018.
Pache's numbers did dip a bit when he was promoted to Double-A -- he hit .260 in 29 games -- but the sample size was small. The Fall League will provide Pache more opportunities to hit advanced pitching, and it's a challenging he's relishing.
"When the Braves said I was going, I was excited because I've heard about the Fall League because most of the people that have played in the Fall League have played in the big leagues," Pache said. "All the work in the off-season is paying off."
Braves pitchers in the Fall League
Kyle Muller, LHP (No. 12) -- Muller, a second-round pick from the 2016 Draft, wasn't pushed quite as aggressively as some of the other young Braves pitching prospects, but after spending his first full season with Rookie-level Danville, Muller made big strides in 2018. The 21-year-old pitched across three levels and ultimately wound up with Double-A Mississippi, where he went 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in five starts. Overall, Muller finished 11-3 with a 3.03 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 139 2/3 innings. The 2018 campaign was a big one for the lefty and that, combined with a strong showing in Arizona, could boost his stock heading into 2019.
Thomas Burrows, LHP (No. 19) -- Burrows also pitched across three levels in 2018 and converted 11 of his 12 save opportunities. The 24-year-old held batters to a .199 average and racked up 86 strikeouts in 67 2/3 innings. Burrows doesn't have pinpoint command -- he issued 36 walks this season -- but throws enough strikes to succeed. What Burrows does have are two plus pitches -- a fastball that sits in the lower 90s with movement and a sweeping slider.
Adam McCreery, LHP -- McCreery made his Major League debut in September, but pitched just one inning with the big league club and spent the rest of the year with Double-A Mississippi and Triple-A Gwinnett. The 6-foot-9 pitcher has no problem racking up strikeouts -- he fanned 90 in 60 2/3 innings in 2017 and recorded 71 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings this year. However, command isn't his strong suit. McCreery walked 5.5 batters per nine innings in 2017, and that number rose to 6.1 in 2018.
Jeremy Walker, RHP -- Aside from one start with Triple-A Gwinnett, Walker spent the entire year with Class A Advanced Florida, where he went 5-11 with a 4.07 ERA over 25 starts. However, Walker may have figured something out at the end of the season and enters the Fall League riding a big wave of momentum. The 23-year-old went 3-1 with a 2.41 ERA over five starts in August -- his best month of the year -- for Florida and then was promoted to Gwinnett to make his final start of the season. In that start, Walker spun eight scoreless frames, struck out six and gave up just three hits.
Braves hitters in the Fall League
Braxton Davidson, 1B -- The good news is that Davidson, a former first-round pick (2014), doubled his previous career high with 20 homers in 2018. The bad news is that he also set a career high with 213 strikeouts in 121 games and has spent three straight years at the Class A Advanced level. Defensively, Davidson began his career in the outfield, but switched to first base prior to the 2018 season.
Ray-Patrick Didder, SS -- It's easy to fall under the radar among all the impressive names in the Braves farm system, and that's exactly what has happened to Didder, who MLB Pipeline has identified as the Braves Fall League sleeper prospect. The Aruban-born 24-year-old has plus athleticism and is versatile defensively -- he's played 267 career games in the outfield and 239 in the infield, primarily at shortstop. Offensively, Didder had a breakout year in 2016 but slumped a bit in 2017. This year, he got off to a slow start and hit .209/.309/.299 through 76 games with Class A Advanced Florida, but he turned it on late and slashed .275/.373/.374 over 46 games after being promoted to Double-A Mississippi in July. Didder also showcased his speed this year as he stole 27 bases, which makes at least 25 bags swiped in three straight seasons.
Izzy Wilson, OF -- The 20-year-old played a career-high 108 games in 2018 and hit .223/.305/.349 and stole 16 bases with Class A Rome and Class A Advanced Florida. Wilson, whom the Braves signed in December of 2014, has solid tools and potential, but has struggled to put it all together early in his career.

William Boor is a reporter for MLB Pipeline. Follow him on Twitter at @wboor.