Watching Tigers minor league baseball for a long time, I am not sure I have ever come across a more perplexing prospect in all my time. I’ve spent many years putting Audy Ciriaco on my breakout lists, only left to still be wanting at the end of the year for a little bit more. 2011 wasn’t a huge step in the right direction, but there was a stint where Ciriaco lived up quite well to his vast promise, and once again has me intrigued in what we could see for 2012. Ciriaco, even though it seems like he has been in the Detroit system is still only 24 years old. And still worth profiling.
For a further look into what Ciriaco offers, click on that continue reading thing…….
Ciriaco was signed by the Tigers in February of 2005 out of San Pedro De Macoris, Dominican Republic. San Pedro De Macoris is known for it’s shortstops, so signing Ciriaco was definitely worth the try. Normally, I would go through all the numbers at the different levels at this point in a year by year analysis. Given that Ciriaco has spent 7 years in the minor leagues with the Tigers, I just thought I would summarize, and talk more about his 2011. Prior to 2011, Ciriaco has struggled offensively, never posting a batting average above .256 or more than 11 home runs. A bigger issue might be his reluctance to take walks, and cracked a .300 OBP for the first time in 2011 with .301. Hey, progress is progress right? Well, 2011 was an improvement, but still not a banner year. Ciriaco hit .277 with Erie in 2011, due in large part to a strong 2nd half. He is currently following his most successful offensive season overall with a strong Dominican Winter League, hitting .310, with an OPS of .814.
Audy Ciriaco is the classic example of a boom or bust type prospect. The first thing that jumps out at you when you look at Ciriaco is his frame. We are talking a Hanley Ramirez type frame, though he hasn’t put on the bulk muscle that Ramirez has. Scouts have dreamed on that frame and waited for some more power to come in game action.
One of the reasons that the power hasn’t come is that Ciriaco still lacks some pitch recognition, and remains far too aggressive in the batters box. He still chases too many pitches out of the zone, and hasn’t shown the ability to improve upon that area to this point. Due to the lack of discipline, Ciriaco is way too often making weak contact, sapping even more of his raw power.
When Ciriaco does force a pitcher to throw a strike, or if they accidentally do it, he does have the ability to drive the ball to all parts of the field. He is more of a doubles and triples guy, but he can turn on the ball on occasion and drive one out of the yard. He does possess above average speed that serves him well on the base paths, and in general is a good athlete.
Defensively, he doesn’t have a plus tool, but possesses good range and an above average throwing arm. He has often looked mechanical to me at SS, and not as fluid as one would like, but I think that is a function of thinking, instead of reacting. That isn’t something that you can teach necessarily, so 3B might be better. With the ball getting there quicker, it might help Ciriaco just react, and he can let his natural skill take over at that point.
I probably like Ciriaco as a prospect way more than I should. In fact, I know I do. It’s the frame that gets me. He looks like a productive baseball player waiting to happen, and the fact that he runs well and has power potential makes me want to believe something will click. I’ve been waiting for 3 or 4 years now, and it just doesn’t seem to be happening. You can’t steal first base, and until Ciriaco fixes his plate discipline and pitch recognition issues, it’s just not going to happen for him.
That 2nd half of 2011 was enough to still have a glimmer of hope, but that glimmer is fading fast.