Phillies trade for former top prospect Christian Pache

Mar 29, 2023 - 8:42 PM

The Philadelphia Phillies have made their anticipated splash Wednesday afternoon ahead of Opening Day.

With Rhys Hoskins’ ACL surgery scheduled for Thursday, the Phillies had a blank spot on their 26-man roster. Though it was expected to be claimed by Scott Kingery or Kody Clemens, both of whom had excellent springs, the hole will instead be filled by Cristian Pache in all likelihood.

In order to complete the trade, Dave Dombrowski sent the Oakland Athletics minor league reliever Billy Sullivan. Sullivan was a Philadelphia-area product, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020.

Pitching the whole season as a 23-year-old for Double-A Reading in 2022, Sullivan had a 4.59 ERA, but managed a 13.6 K/9, though it was offset by a 6.4 BB/9. Sullivan certainly has a live arm, but given the Phillies bullpen depth, it’s understandable why they cast him aside for Pache.

The former Atlanta Brave, and now former Athletic, was MLB’s #12 prospect headed into the 2021 season. Pache, however, has never hit at the Major League level, slashing .156/.205/.234 across 332 plate appearances.

Yet spring training 2023 has been a breath of fresh air for Pache, who hit .302 with a .780 OPS. He’s an excellent defensive center fielder with plus speed and a great arm. The only thing that remains for the Phillies is to teach him to hit Big League pitching.

It’s a task for which hitting coach Kevin Long is well equipped, having aided in a similar case with Brandon Marsh just last year. Marsh had been MLB’s #53 prospect prior to 2021. Before his debut and joining the Phillies, Marsh’s career OPS was .653.

Marsh and Pache have nearly identical profiles. The thing that makes them distinct: Marsh hits righties, and Pache hits lefties. It unlikely the manager Rob Thomson will elect for a straight up platoon between the two, but adding Pache to his arsenal gives the Phillies a noticeable upgrade in firepower off the bench.

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