Tigers Prospect Profile #23: Audy Ciriaco

Audy Ciriaco has made a name for himself in the organization, if for no other reason that continually being cited as a player ready to break out and capitalize on his impressive tool-set. At 24, Ciriaco is now running out of time to make the jump; can he do it?

Audy Ciriaco
Position: Infielder
Height: 6-3
Weight: 195
Born: 6/16/1987
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

After the Tigers signed Wilkin Ramirez out of the Dominican Republic, Ciriaco was their next big foray into the region, signing as a 17-year old for a reported low six-figure bonus.

The Tigers wasted no time testing their new toy, assigning hit to make his pro debut in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League in 2005 as an 18-year old. He posted a .250/.299/.421 line and flashed a multitude of raw tools.

The next three years saw a variety of middling performances, the first of which came with a .217/.258/.337 line in a return tour through the GCL. In 2007 and 2008, Ciriaco posted a .612 and .676 OPS at low-A West Michigan, respectively. There were some signs of life in his line as he managed to cut his strikeout rate in 2008.

In 2009, the Tigers pushed him to high-A Lakeland where he notched a .262/.296/.397 line that included his first season with double-digit home runs, popping 11 in 121 games. He also slugged 17 doubles and five triples that summer, to go along with 15 stolen bases.

The 2010 season was an up and down campaign for Ciriaco, as he battled injuries en route to a .241 batting average and 49 strikeouts in 61 games. When he was healthy and on the field, he slugged at a pretty god clip, knocking eight doubles, four triples, and nine home runs.

Scouting Report
Ciriaco is an excellent case study in truly watching the development of a player and the corresponding changes in his scouting report. He still has what many scouts have dubbed a "good body," and he is still one of the better pure athletes in the system.

Previously listed as a 60-65 grade runner, he's more of an above-average runner now with some plus speed at times, but his instincts have improved and allowed him to utilize his speed better on the bases.

Though the Tigers have moved him off of shortstop, he is still capable of manning the position defensively. His range and hands can play at the position, and his plus arm is not a concern. Many times, Ciriaco would get indecisive at shortstop, and some scouts believed a move to third base may ultimately let his tools take over in the more reactionary environment of the hot corner. Given his athleticism, he could likely handle any defensive assignment the organization threw at him.

Ciriaco's hit tool has yet to develop as many thought it might. He has an over-aggressive approach at the plate and while his pitch recognition skills have improved since signing, they are still lacking. He swings at too many pitches out of the strike zone and would be unlikely to ever post a solid average or on-base percentage.

There is strength in Ciriaco's body and swing. He can drive balls with easy power to all fields and he has potential plus power to the pull side. His speed helps him turn singles into doubles, and doubles into triples. His raw power is often sapped by his approach in game situations.

Ciriaco is the epitome of a good makeup guy. He is always wearing an infectious smile and has a deep love for the game. He is a natural leader and a hard worker.

Without a truly standout defensive tool, and his bat not progressing as his tools may have suggested it could, Ciriaco is left in a bit of limbo as a prospect. With his athleticism and aggressive style of play, he may benefit from gaining additional versatility in the field to give him a chance as a utility player.



































Health Record
Ciriaco has been healthy for the bulk of his six year professional career. He hit the DL in 2008 with a quad injury that cost him some time at West Michigan, and he missed significant time in 2010 with a wrist injury. The quad has had no lingering effects. It remains to be seen how he will come back this season from the wrist injury, but he was playing without restriction during the Fall Instructional League and the off-season should have provided him the opportunity to regain strength.

The Future
The 2011 season is a big, big season for Ciriaco. He will report to big league camp as a member of the 40-man roster, and will eventually compete for a job in Erie or Toledo. His ability to play both shortstop and third base gives him some flexibility and also clouds which roster he could land on.

At either location, playing time and at-bats will be the critical piece for him in 2011. There were some glimpses of the tools translating to results in 2010, but it was in short bursts and consistency is still required.

There is a very slim chance that Ciriaco still turns into a quality big leaguer at a single position, but that window is closing rapidly despite being just 24-years old this season. With two positions already in his back pocket, don't be surprised if he sees times elsewhere on the diamond this year in an attempt to increase his big league value. Without a bit of a breakout this summer, Ciriaco could be in danger of losing his grip on a 40-man roster spot.

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