It wasn’t too long ago when Athletics outfielder Cristian Pache was a top-100 prospect in all of baseball.
Now, the 24-year-old will be fighting for a spot on the A’s Opening Day roster.
Pache, who arrived in Oakland as one of the promising pieces in the Matt Olson trade with the Atlanta Braves last March, saw his first extended look in the big leagues last season but didn’t quite pass the test.
In 91 games, Pache displayed elite defensive range in center field but struggled at the plate, batting .166/.218/.241 with just 10 extra-base hits and two steals in 260 plate appearances.
What does the youngster need to improve on during spring training?
“Offensively, the adjustments for him would be to increase the on-base percentage, whether that’s to have more success hitting or just getting on base, taking your walks,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said Tuesday.
Pache was the A’s starter in center field on Opening Day last year but struggled over the first three months of the season and was optioned to the Triple-A Las Vegas Aviators on June 30.
He logged a .687 OPS, eight doubles and four homers in 41 games for the Aviators before being recalled by Oakland in late August. Pache did find a stride to close out the season, notching a hit in four of his last six appearances, but he clearly has plenty of room for growth at the plate.
“Cristian didn’t really strike out a ton. It was more weak contact; ground-ball rate was high,” Kotsay said. “For us, when he stays to his approach to right-center and utilizes the other side of the field, there was success last year.”
Pache notched a hard-hit batted ball -- defined by an exit velocity of 95 miles per hour or greater -- 40.8 percent of the time, which ranked 113th among qualified MLB hitters.
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Now with the club in Mesa, Ariz., for spring training, Pache will be battling for a roster spot in the A's outfield.
Ramon Laureano and Seth Brown likely will be the primary corner outfielders, while Esteury Ruiz -- acquired in the Sean Murphy deal -- JJ Bleday and Conner Capel represent Pache's main competition this spring.