The Tampa Bay Rays picked high school catcher Nick Ciuffo with their first pick in the annual draft.
Ciuffo, who went 21st overall, was rated the No. 2 catcher and No. 22 player available by Baseball America. The magazine said he draws comparisons to major leaguer A.J. Pierzynski "for his tools and competitive age."
Ciuffo verbally committed to South Carolina before ever playing for the Lexington (S.C.) High varsity team. He had a .401 average with 93 RBIs in 123 career high school games. Ciuffo hit .468 with five home runs and 33 RBIs this year, leading the Wildcats to a state championship.
"I think Nick, right now, could jump into a Double-A lineup and catch ever day, and he would be just as good as anybody there," Brian Hucks, his high school coach, recently told WLTX-TV of Columbia. "He's that talented behind the plate."
Stories on Ciuffo ...
The State (Columbia, S.C.)
Charleston Post & Courier