Major League debuts are memorable. Whether they materialize into a career that's Hall of Fame worthy or one that is destined for a short career is immaterial. Every hitter remembers when he stepped into the batters' box and faced a Major League ace for the first time. No pitcher forgets the first time he toed the rubber, looked in for the sign and delivered a pitch.
Every player has that “Welcome to the Show” moment that goes into their memory bank.
Cristian Pache had his Friday night at home against the Philadelphia Phillies. Unfortunately, it came during the coronavirus pandemic era so there were not thousands of fans at Truist Park in attendance to greet him with a standing ovation. But it still undoubtedly was a special moment nonetheless.
Pache batted in the No. 9 position and collected his first hit in the majors in the sixth inning; a grounder through the infield. Pache flashed a smile as he crossed first base, fully embracing the moment that most little leaguers just dream about.
While the hype surrounding Pache does not rival that of Ronald Acuna Jr. when he was firing through Minor Leagues at breakneck speed, there is a lot of excitement and optimism surrounding this kids' potential in the outfield. He's already drawn defensive comparisons to Andruw Jones, who I consider the greatest defensive outfielder of my generation. Andruw flashed an effortless ability to glide to any ball hit to the center field wall or just beyond the infield dirt. Jones won 10 straight Gold Gloves. If Pache is anything close to Jones with the leather, the Braves have someone to patrol center field for the next decade.
Atlanta Braves fans have witnessed numerous debuts over the years, especially during this recent rebuild as more and more youngsters find their footing in Atlanta. Who can forget Acuna Jr. when he debuted in 2018 and delivered a hit against the Cincinnati Reds. The next day, Acuna notched a solo homer en route to capturing the National League Rookie of the Year Award.
Go back a decade to 10 when a kid outfielder and homegrown talent Jason Heyward stepped to the plate and tomahawked a homer over the right-field seats in his debut.
Or how about Jeff Francoeur in 2005 against the Chicago Cubs? He stepped to the plate before a standing ovation from the Braves fans at then-Turner Field. He later delivered a home run to center for his first hit in the majors..
It's fun to watch the Baby Braves get their shot in the Big Show. Hopefully, as this year's show winds into September and the stretch run of the postseason chase, this Baby Brave won't get starry-eyed. Hard to believe he would. Pache already has the look of a gamer.
Clint Thompson is a special contributor to the Valdosta Daily Times.