It’s been a bad year for Ender Inciarte so far. He’s been one of, if not the worst hitter in baseball this season with by far the lowest average exit velocity of any hitter and an OPS of .507. His defense, long the backbone of his skillset, is still outstanding, but there are signs he’s lost a step and may no longer be the elite center fielder he was in his prime. All in all, Ender Inciarte’s days in an Atlanta uniform are nearing their end, and with a phenomenal defensive center field prospect in Cristian Pache sitting on the 40 man roster and waiting his turn those days may number in the single digits.
The Talking Chop MiLB got together for a roundtable discussion on many topics that will be posted in the coming days, but the first question we posed was about Ender the potential arrival of Cristian Pache in Atlanta.
With Ender Inciarte struggling at the plate do you think it’s time for the Braves to make a move and call up their top prospect Cristian Pache?
Wayne: I’m torn here. The major issue with Ender is his hit-tool, or lack thereof. While Ender is no longer the Gold Glove winning centerfielder he once was, he is definitely more than adequate with the glove. That is Pache’s strength as well. How much will Pache hit after not facing competitive pitching in so long and would that stunt his development if he isn’t successful? Those are my questions. That said, I would call him up, but be hesitant on making him an everyday player right away.
Gaurav: Yeah, and it’s a pretty easy choice for me. Ender has struggled on the field, and really struggled at the plate. I am actually pretty confident that Pache could have a 90 wRC+ while providing absolutely elite defense in center. It adds stability into the field as Pache would play every day, Ronald would sit in right, and then Duvall in left, or Ronald in left and Markakis in right. I wouldn’t expect him to do much with the bat to start off with but he can match Ender’s production.
Aaron: I feel like this should be an easy yes. However, with the rotation the way it is, with Albies and Acuña hurt, do you start the clock for your top prospect in a shortened season? As a fan, we want the best players on the field, but this is what a GM gets paid to do. Ender just doesn’t look the same as he did a couple years ago. His swings are well just some of the laziest slaps I’ve ever seen. His defense is replacement level. Ender is likely the one guy you could replace with just about anyone and it’d be an upgrade. Even if Pache isn’t called up, Ender shouldn’t even be playing. You have Acuña, Duvall, Markakis and Ozuna who can take most of the at bats.
Matt: Yes. Pache looked ready this camp and was only slowed by injury and service time questions. Now healthy and with service time restrictions about to be over, it is time to put him on the big club. There is just no reason to play Ender over Pache, as Pache is arguably the better defender, brings more speed, and is already more of a threat with the bat right now- which says more about where Ender is offensively than anything about where Pache’s bat is right now.
Eric: It was time a week plus ago, but service time does matter and the Braves’ rotation woes were understandably the primary area of focus for the club. With Ronald’s wrist giving him trouble in addition to Ender not being able to do much of anything, there are a lot of reasons to bring up Pache and less and less to keep him down especially when the extra year of service time is attained.
Garrett: Service time aside, I think it really is. While I don’t think Pache is going to be a major revelation to the lineup with the bat it’s not really possible to be a step back from Ender at this point and comes with the upside that he might be better than we think. Defensively there’s no drop off, so the main draw for Ender is moot with a guy like Pache. Ender is unfortunately no longer a serviceable major league starter and it’s worth giving Pache a chance in the role he should hold for the foreseeable future anyways.