Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE
Pedro Ciriaco's strong start evaporated in September, but might the infielder have earned himself a place in the majors?
Pedro Ciriaco is not a legend. He is not the diamond in the rough, the shortstop of the future, or frankly even a born Yankee Killer (small sample sizes, while fun, are entirely unreliable).
What he may be is a major league utility player, which is more than could be said for him before 2012.
Picked up on a minor league deal, Ciriaco in all probability was never going to be known in Boston. For most minor league free agents, the career path in Boston is simple: spring training, a while spent day-to-day in Pawtucket, and then a departure for greener pastures where a lower division team might actually have need of your services. In most years the Red Sox are a very good tea, which bodes ill for fringe guys trying to make the roster.
And, for the first few months, Pedro Ciriaco didn't seem like he was going to break free of that pattern. He was different in that people actually knew his name--a strong spring training with clutch hits and a certain level of desperation at shortstop (Mike Aviles and Nick Punto, unsurprisingly, inspired no great excitement before the season started) provided all the motivation necessary for Sox fans to turn a minor league free agent into (somewhat misguided) hope. Still, Pedro didn't break camp with the team, and it wasn't until early July that he actually got his call-up, prompting a series of "Hey, that guy!" reactions from a fanbase that, once again, was in desperate need of some hope.
And in that role, Ciriaco did an admirable job. After going 0-for-4 in his first game, Pedro put up four hits against the Yankees in an energizing 9-5 win. A 3-for-4 night in game three--also against the Yankees, though this time a loss--turned amusement into excitement, and a 3-for-3 performance against the Rays after the All-Star break brought his own "Legend of Jed Lowrie" style cult.
As with every player who starts the season 10-for-16, it was all downhill from there, but Pedro managed to hold onto life for an unusually long amount of time, entering September with an OPS still over .800. There, however, the wheels finally came off. A player so completely lacking plate discipline can only hang on for so long, and as the rest of the team crumbled, Pedro went with them, providing just a .522 OPS in the last month, bringing him down to a .293/.315/.390 mark on the season.
Still, that's not all doom and gloom for a guy like Ciriaco. It might also not be what you hope for with a .352 BABIP, but if there's anyone who can sustain something like that Ciriaco seems the guy with all his infield hits. Someone who can keep their OPS around .700 (no guarantees there, mind), steal a good few bases, and play solid defense at tough positions is not a Quadruple-A player. They are not destined for a career of complete obscurity. If this Ciriaco is the real Ciriaco, then he may well have just made the jump to a legitimate major league player. Not necessarily a starter on a good team, but a valuable piece to almost any organization, the Red Sox included. Add in that he's a fan favorite here already, and 2012 may just be the beginning for Ciriaco with the Sox.