Top prospects make strong final impressions

March 30th, 2021

The final day of Spring Training can mean one last opportunity for a high-profile prospect to make an impression before camp breaks, whether that player has already made the Major League roster or is ticketed for the Minors. Tuesday afternoon's action at JetBlue Ballpark had one of each.

Cristian Pache -- who's slated to be Atlanta's Opening Day center fielder -- had a perfect day at the dish and displayed his defensive abilities for the visiting Braves, while Jarren Duran -- whom Boston officially reassigned to Minor League camp back on March 17 -- went yard and doubled for the Red Sox.

Pache struggled at the plate throughout the Grapefruit League this year, but the 22-year-old No. 12 overall prospect flashed his potential several times over 17 games, including in Tuesday's 5-3 win over the Red Sox. Batting against left-hander Martín Pérez in the second inning, Pache smacked the first pitch he saw for a hard liner to left field, where it bounced to the wall for an RBI double.

Having entered the game with four walks over 42 spring plate appearances, he notched one against Pérez in the fifth and another against righty Seth Blair in the seventh, scoring after each. He also logged his second stolen base of camp.

Much of the excitement about Pache stems from his 80-grade defense, with some Atlanta fans hopeful that 2021 will mark the first of many Gold Glove-seasons for the center fielder. He provided a small taste of those abilities in the fourth inning, dashing across the grass to make a diving catch on an awkwardly slicing ball off the bat of Rafael Devers.

Duran, meanwhile capped a very strong offensive Grapefruit League campaign by mashing two extra-base hits in two plate appearance to boost his slash line to .340/.367/.702. The 24-year-old outfielder and fourth-ranked Boston prospect entered the game in center field in the top of the fifth and doubled to center in a left-on-left matchup against Drew Smyly in the bottom of the inning. It was his sixth two-bagger this spring.

Two frames later, he took righty Mike Soroka deep, swatting a 3-2 offering way over the fence in right field for his third dinger.

The 2018 seventh-rounder out of Long Beach State split 2019 between Class A Advanced Salem and Double-A Portland.

More notable performances from top prospects:

Wander Franco, SS, TB (MLB No. 1)
Franco faced a couple Top 25 prospects in Casey Mize and Matt Manning. The former forced baseball’s top prospect to ground out while the latter issued a walk. Following the free pass, Franco came around to score for the Rays. In the latter half of the spring campaign, the 20-year-old was mostly used a late-inning replacement, getting an at-bat each game. Franco, who will begin the season at the alternate training site, finished the campaign strong, reaching base in five of his last seven plate appearances. Gameday »

Ke'Bryan Hayes, 3B, PIT (MLB No. 9)
Hayes capped his strong spring the best way he could: with a home run. The top Pirates prospect crushed a solo shot to left center with an exit velocity of 104.2 mph. Hayes' blast was the longest of the day, measured at 424 feet. The 24-year-old, who is already an NL Rookie of the Year favorite, finished the campaign with a .431/.463/.745 slash line, 10 extra-base hits and nine RBIs in 17 games. Gameday »

Casey Mize, RHP, DET (MLB No. 11)
Mize worked his way in and out of trouble multiple times, but in his final frame, he didn’t get the chance. The Tigers pulled their top pitching prospect with two outs in the fifth before Carson Fulmer allowed a pair of inherited runners to score. Mize yielded five hits and a walk with six strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. The 2018 No. 1 overall Draft made Detroit’s rotation, despite a tough spring in which he allowed 15 runs in 18 2/3 innings for a 7.23 ERA. Mize fanned 27 Grapefruit League batters against 11 walks. Gameday »

Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CWS (MLB No. 14)
Vaughn slapped a game-tying sacrifice fly and added a single in his final game before officially making the Opening Day roster for the White Sox. Manager Tony La Russa told reporters Vaughn will be in the lineup, but he has not decided the position. The 2019 third overall Draft pick has had a consistent spring at the plate while expanding his defense to left field. Gameday »