Saturday, January 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Rays' top pick Ciuffo eager to start playing

NEW YORK — First-round draft pick C Nick Ciuffo took care of business Friday morning at the Trop, signing for the MLB assigned value of $1,974,700. Then he immediately drove with his dad down to Port Charlotte to join the Gulf Coast League team, eager to get down to business.

"I've been on the edge of my seat since I heard my named called (at the draft)," Ciuffo, 18, said on a conference call.

Ciuffo (pronounced SHOO-fo) is scheduled to work out today and hopes to see his first game action next week, needing a few days to get his timing back since last playing in mid May. He is excited by what he heard from RHP Taylor Guerrieri, a former travel-ball teammate who is now a top Rays prospect, about the organization and what he saw in passing on a scholarship from South Carolina.

"With the slot value where it was, it's really just too good of a deal to turn down," Ciuffo said.

He said he'll probably buy a car and put the rest of his money away, more excited about the on-field prospects. The Lexington (S.C.) High product expects his biggest issues to be getting used to the wood bat and learning to communicate with Spanish-speaking pitchers.

"I've never really been around Spanish-speaking people and in my mind I think that'll be my biggest adjustment, kind of adapting to their style," he said.

WELCOME SIGHT: LHP Cesar Ramos had an early morning wakeup welcome in his hotel room Friday, fiance Melanie McCauley flying in from Los Angeles after being cleared by her oncologist following treatments for Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"Definitely a great feeling, a huge relief, just having her here," Ramos said. "Hopefully that's it with her battle. Hopefully that's the end of it, and it stays away, and we move forward."

McCauley, who had chemotherapy and radiation treatments, will return for a checkup when the Rays are in California in August but otherwise is free to travel with Ramos and move back to the Tampa Bay area.

Her arrival was even better timed, as Ramos turns 29 today. "Definitely an early birthday present," he said.

New stage: RHP Alex Colome knows the stage will be different today when he makes his second big-league start at Yankee Stadium after making his debut May 30 in Miami, and he likes the idea.

"It's something good for me," he said. "The people don't know me, they maybe can know me now when I pitch here in Yankee Stadium. Everyone watches the game."

Colome was called up from Triple A to take injured RHP Alex Cobb's spot in the rotation and will be added to the roster today. RHP Josh Lueke was sent down to Triple-A Durham.

Colome said he wasn't nervous in his debut though a bit "too excited," and he expects to be calmer.

MINOR NO-NO: Four pitchers combined for a no-hitter at Class A Bowling Green in a 14-1 win over Lansing: Blake Snell, Eduar Quinonez, Nick Sawyer and Marcus Jensen.

MORE DRAFT: The team's third-round pick, OF Thomas Milone, a Connecticut signee who also plays football, agreed to a deal for $530,600 that will be official this weekend. The team announced signings of fourth-round INF Kean Wong, 33rd-round 3B Hector Montes and 40th-round 2B Ryan Henley. With Milone, 29 of their 41 picks will be signed.

MISCELLANY: The Rays-Royals makeup of the May 2 snow-out has been officially scheduled for 1:10 on Aug. 26, a mutual day off with the Rays between home series. … RHP Brandon Gomes, on the DL since early May with a lat strain, is very close to going out on what should be a 7- to 10-day rehab assignment, Maddon said. … RHP Ivan Nova is expected to be called up to start Sunday for the Yankees, who Friday designated for assignment former Rays INF Reid Brignac.

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