Saturday, January 29, 2022

Braves top prospects 2022: Outfielder Cristian Pache ranks second on Atlanta’s list

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Major League Baseball’s owners may have locked out the players, triggering the league’s first work stoppage since 1994-95 and bringing the offseason to a halt, but that doesn’t mean we’re letting it derail our typical offseason plans. Indeed, CBS Sports is in the process of highlighting the top three prospects for all 30 teams, as well as naming the top 50 prospects in the minors, regardless of team affiliation. 

That journey finds us today focusing on the Atlanta Braves‘ farm system. 

Do note that these lists are formed after conversations with scouts, analysts, and player development folks from around the league. There is personal bias baked in, as one would expect from subjective exercises, so some disagreement is to be expected.

Now, onto the gasbaggery. 

1. Michael Harris, OF

Harris is a fascinating prospect. He was a two-way player in high school who has since toyed with switch-hitting just because. He’s made a quick ascent up the Braves’ list since being drafted in the third round in 2019 thanks to a tool set that could feature five above-average or better grades at maturation. Harris spent last season in High-A, where he batted .294/.362/.436 with seven home runs and 27 stolen bases (on 31 tries). Some scouts aren’t sure if Harris will be able to remain in center for the long haul, but his bat should more than play in a corner. And if he does stick? He could be a star.

2. Cristian Pache, OF

The book on Pache has been the same for a while now. He’s a high-grade defensive center fielder with a bottom-of-the-order bat. Pache spent most of last season in Triple-A, where he hit .265/.330/.414 with more than three times as many strikeouts as walks. He’s a burner in terms of pure speed, though that’s never translated into him being much of a stolen-base threat, as he’s struggled with efficiency. Pache just turned 23 years old in November, and his defensive ability gives him a high floor. Still, the Braves can only hope that he taps into more of his star-caliber upside in time.

3. Shea Langeliers, C

Langeliers, the ninth pick in the 2019 draft, should make his big-league debut sometime before next season ends. He reached Triple-A last year after hitting .258/.338/.498 with 22 home runs in 92 games at the Double-A level. Langeliers does have above-average juice, but his bat is likely to play second fiddle to his glove. He has one of the strongest arms in the minors, and he’s good enough at the other aspects of defense to profile as an above-average mitt. Langeliers’ defensive base makes him a safe bet to carve out a career as at least a backup type, and likely as something more.

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