Entering the 2023 season, the Philadelphia Phillies needed a right-handed hitter to complement Brandon Marsh in center field. On March 29th— one day before the Phillies' season opener— the club traded for that right-handed bat and someone who could play solid defense in the outfield. Enter Cristian Pache.
Pache was a highly touted prospect in the Atlanta Braves organization. In fact, as recently as 2020, he was the Braves' no. 1 overall prospect according to MLB.com. He was then traded to Oakland in the deal that brought Matt Olson to Atlanta. The Phillies decided to take a chance and attempt to untap some of the potential that Pache had previously exhibited.
The young outfielder had a rough start to his tenure in Philadelphia. He went 0-6 in his first four appearances in a Phillies' uniform. While that was an extremely small sample size, it felt that he was always at the plate in high leverage situations and continuously came up short. Pache sprinkled in a few hits here and there over the next week or two.
On April 22nd, Pache hit his first home run as a Philadelphia Phillie. Since then, he has been hitting the ball well, batting .348 over his next 23 at-bats. Later, he missed about a month and a half after tearing his meniscus and requiring surgery at the end of April.
Despite not getting much playing time due to Marsh having a good season offensively, Pache has begun to take advantage of the opportunities he is given. On Friday night, he was called upon to pinch hit for Marsh against Miami Marlins' closer A.J. Puk. The Phillies found themselves in a two-run deficit to begin the inning but brought the game to within one run as Alec Bohm doubled to drive in J.T. Realmuto.
Pache came off the bench with a runner on second base and two outs after a Josh Harrison three-pitch strike out. All Pache had to do was single to tie the game. He did better than that. He drove an 0-1 sweeper over the centerfield wall to give the Phillies a 4-3 lead. That was all that Craig Kimbrel needed to shut the Marlins down in the bottom half of the ninth inning to give the Phillies their 13th consecutive win on the road.
Pache played the hero on Friday night. Phillies' hitting coach Kevin Long may have tapped into Pache's potential that, at one point, had scouts regarding him as a top prospect. While he may not be an everyday player for the Phillies, he is a solid defensive replacement, a more reliable right-handed bat off the bench, and a player that can give Marsh a day off against a tough left-handed pitcher. His value should only continue to increase as he is still just 24 years old.