UPDATED: Top pick Ciuffo signed
UPDATED, 1:40: Ciuffo is already in Port Charlotte, where he will join the Gulf Coast League team and hopes to start playing next week.
He said the decision to sign was relatively easy, as impressed as he was by the Rays organization, all the good things he heard from former teammate Taylor Guerrieri and the financial terms as the Rays offered the full $1,974,700 value assigned by MLB
"With the slot value where it was, it's really just too good of a deal to turn down." Ciuffo said.
Ciuffo (pronounced SHOO-fo) hasn't played a game since the South Carolina state high school tournament ended in mid-May, and said he is eager to get back on the field, get his timing down, and start his pro career.
"I've been on trhe edge of my seat since I heard my named called (at MLB Network studios in the draft),'' he said.
Ciuffo said his two biggest adjustments will be using the wood bat and communicating with Spanish-speaking pitchers.
After signing his contract this morning at the Trop, he said he plans to buy a new car with the bonus and put the rest away.
DEVELOPING: Top draft pick C Nick Ciuffo officially signed his contract this morning with the Rays.
Ciuffo, the 21st overall pick, received a bonus close to the MLB recommended slot value of $1,974,700.
Ciuffo, 18, is expected to start his career with the Gulf Coast League team based in Port Charlotte.
The Lexington (S.C.) High product had a scholarship offer to South Carolina but opted for pro ball.
Here is the official release from the Rays:
The Tampa Bay Rays have signed catcher Nick Ciuffo (SHOO-fo), their first round selection from the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft and the No. 21 pick overall. He will report to Port Charlotte, Fla., to play for the Rookie-level Gulf Coast League Rays who start their regular season today.
Ciuffo, 18, is the first catcher ever taken by the Rays with their first overall pick. He was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 22 overall prospect in the draft, No. 2 catcher, No. 1 out of the state of South Carolina and No. 11 among high school players. He was also ranked as the No. 23 overall prospect by MLB.com.
As a senior at Lexington (S.C.) High School, he led his team to a state championship (AAAA) and was named the 2013 South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year after hitting .468 with five home runs, 33 RBI, a .723 slugging percentage and .562 on-base percentage. He was also named a 2013 Rawlings Preseason All-American and a 2012 Under Armour All-American. In 123 career high school games, he hit .401 with 11 home runs and 93 RBI.
Ciuffo is the first high school catcher from the state of South Carolina ever taken in the first round of the draft. The only other catcher in draft history selected in the first round out of South Carolina was Landon Powell, selected by Oakland in 2004 at No. 24 overall out of the University of South Carolina. Ciuffo had previously committed to play at the University of South Carolina, which offered him a scholarship at the age of 14 before he had ever played a varsity game. He played youth baseball with Taylor Guerrieri, the Rays first overall pick in 2011 (No. 24 overall).