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Atlanta Braves Minor League Predictions: Best Position Player

The Talking Chop minor league staff got together to make their predictions for who will have the best 2018 seasons (non-Acuna division)

MLB: Spring Training-Pittsburgh Pirates at Atlanta Braves Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With the minor league season starting up next week, the Talking Chop minor league staff got together to do a series of predictions articles regarding what we think will happen in the 2018 season. Yes, we will likely be wrong a bunch, but half the fun of covering prospects is to see who succeeds and doesn’t and why.

This first set of predictions will be about who will amongst the Braves’ position player prospects will have the best 2018. We are not including Ronald Acuna Jr. as an option because 1) We expect him to spend the vast majority of 2018 in the major leagues and 2) It would not be interesting for us to all answer “Acuna” with a bunch of heart emojis.

Without further delay, here are each of our predictions for the best position player prospect in 2018 (non-Acuna division).

Aaron: Cristian Pache and I don’t think it’s even close. 3 plus/plus-plus tools already. He just needs the bat to come around and show just a little bit of power. I’d take 5-8 HRs as a big step in the right direction.

Eric: Pache and I am not sure it will be particularly close with the possible exception of Austin Riley if he has a strong season. Riley will be his usual excellent self although he will likely start a bit slow, he will likely have a strong year on both sides of the ball. However, Pache has a very real chance at becoming a top tier prospect in baseball if the hit and power tools develop like many of us expect them to. It is possible that it still takes more time for him to round out at the plate, but his athleticism is through the roof and he is among the best defenders in the entire minor leagues. I’ll place my bet on Pache although I wouldn’t fault someone for going with Riley.

Garrett: Cristian Pache had a nice season last year, and with the improvements he has already shown in his power production this season he is poised to break out in a major way. He’ll have to contend with playing in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, but his all around offensive game combined with his defensive excellence will make him the standout this season.

Gaurav: Cristian Pache! While he already exhibits the tools to be an elite defensive centerfielder for years to come - the changes to his stance that everyone is talking about that could potentially keep him more balanced and allow him to drive the ball better are a huge game changer. He was never going to walk a ton but what he does is get the bat on the ball, and if he can now drive it with more authority and get some more back spin on the ball..we could be looking at an Acuna like ascension for Pache up the prospect ranks. If you couldn’t choose Pache then it would have to be Austin Riley who looks like he wants to stay at third - as he’s slimmed down significantly since his rookie year and has put in a ton of work on the field.

Matt: Kevin...Wait, I’m just so used to saying that name. In reality this is a coin flip. You could go with the rising power hitter Austin Riley, who seems to have continued to make small improvements the same way he has ever since he was drafted by the Braves to the point where his original weaknesses are no longer such questions, or you could go with rising star Cristian Pache. Pache seems to have changed his approach at the plate and is getting loft on the ball- a scary thing when you consider his speed and defense are already elite. The kid could be a superstar if he’s able to hit 15-20 homers a year, but at the same time you have a potential middle of the order bat in Riley. It’s not an easy choice so I’ll go with a tie.

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