Ciriaco Fighting Through Adversity

The Detroit Tigers have been excited for TigsTown's No. 16 prospect Audy Ciriaco for sometime now. The shortstop turned third baseman has the talent to be a five-tool player. At times though it seems that he has been unable to put everything together. The hope is that Ciriaco will figure it out in his first season in Double-A.

Still just 23 years old, the future can still be bright for Audy Ciriaco although he is putting up less than stellar numbers in Erie. So far in Erie this season he is hitting .220/.241/.345. Not to make excuses for Ciriaco, but he is dealing with a position change this season, and a wrist injury.

Ciriaco though has not been deterred, putting lots of work in the cage.

"I've been working on trying to stay through the middle and go the other way," said Ciriaco. "I tend to pull off the ball."

A major concern about Ciriaco is that he struggles with off-speed pitches and their recognition.

"I need to read the ball off the pitcher," he said. "Sometimes I read it better and I get better swings, but sometimes I lose focus." Ciriaco has managed to draw just five walks on the season while striking out 33 times in 42 games. Until corrected he will struggle to become a productive hitter.

When Ciriaco does make contact with the ball it has a sound that can only make hitting coaches and managers happy. He has come up with some clutch moments for the SeaWolves this season.

On May 30, Erie trailed 5-0 after the top of the first inning. Ciriaco drove a fastball off of the Civic Center in the bottom of the inning for a grand slam and putting the ‘Wolves to within a run at 5-4.

"Audy can be a special player," said manager Phil Nevin. "He just needs to continue to work hard."

"Things will happen for him."

As stated earlier Ciriaco is making a position move from shortstop to third base. It is a transition that at times he has struggled with considering his defense has always been a question mark. No one questions the arm strength that he possesses, as he is able to make all the necessary throws from the position. The problem with that strong arm is that he doesn't always know where it is going.

"I sometimes drop my arm slot and the ball sails on me," said Ciriaco. "I need to make sure I come more over the top."

The ball also comes off the bat at a different angle and Ciriaco has struggled at times getting handcuffed by balls.

"I'm getting used to the new position and starting to read the ball off the bat better," said Ciriaco. "It gets on you quickly and is more of a reaction."

His range for a third baseman is excellent thanks to his time as a shortstop. He has made some plays this season that others in the league cannot make.

Something that Erie fans have not seen this year is Ciriaco's speed. Unfortunately he has not spent a lot of time on base and has only five stolen bases so far this season.

Ciriaco should still remain a prospect, but Tigers fans need to be patient with him. He will struggle some until he gains a complete grasp of the strike zone and is willing to draw walks. His defense will come along and the change to third base may help to hasten his arrival to Detroit.

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