Braves Ink Pedro Ciriaco to a Minor League Deal

The Atlanta Braves signed utilityman Pedro Ciriaco to a Minor League contract last week, according to Chris Cotillo of MLBDailyDish.com. The deal will most likely include an invitation to Spring Training next February. Ciriaco declared for costless agency back on Sept. 29 after spending the entire 2014 in the Kansas City Royals organization. He slashed .213/.229/.255 in 49 plate appearances for the Royals before being designated for assignment by the club in June. He handled Triple-A Omaha much better as he batted .302/.322/.444 in 215 plate appearances.

The 29-year-old originally signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks as an international costless agent in February of 2003. He spent the next eight seasons in their farm system before being traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates at the Trade Deadline in July of 2010. He made his Major League debut in September of that year with the Pirates and went 3-for-6 with a double, a triple and an RBI in just eight games that season.

Ciriaco owns a career slash line of .270/.299/.372 in 498 Major League plate appearances. However, he has yet to play more than 80 games at the Major League level in a single season. If the Braves are looking to find a productive extra bat off the bench, Ciriaco is most likely not the guy they're looking for. He often swings at pitches well out of the strike zone and doesn't draw many walks either. He doesn't possess any real power and he strikes out a lot more than a player with his skill set should.

On the other hand, Ciriaco does provide the Braves with flexibility on defense as he can play just about any position on the diamond (excluding catcher and pitcher). He seemingly plays worse on the left side of the infield as in 330 chances in the Majors, he has committed 20 errors when playing shortstop or third base. Those are the only 20 errors that he's made in his Major League career as he's fielded every other position on the diamond to perfection, including his 100 chances at second base.

One aspect of Ciriaco's game that he excels at is base stealing. In 36 stolen base attempts in the Majors, he's only been caught stealing five times as he has been able to provide a substantial amount of baserunning value to every team he's played on.

With other infielders such as Tommy La Stella, Phil Gosselin, Ramiro Pena, Joey Terdoslavich and Tyler Pastornicky all providing better options for the Braves than Ciriaco, expect him to spend most of next season in Triple-A Gwinnett as it's unlikely he'll make the Braves' Opening Day roster in 2015. 

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