Potential Draftee of Interest: Nick Ciuffo | The Process Report

Potential Draftee of Interest: Nick Ciuffo

This year’s draft features a deep class of prep catchers. Nick Ciuffo is considered one of the best, though often not the best, which could leave him on the board when the Rays pick at 21.

Ciuffo attends Lexington High School in Lexington, South Carolina. He—unsurprisingly—is a University of South Carolina commit, having chosen his dad’s alma mater as a 14-year-old. Often with high-school catchers there are concerns about their long-term viability behind the plate. Not with Ciuffo, who receives good grades defensively. He does not figure to be an offensive black hole, either. His swing is short and compact from the left side, and there is power potential to tap into. The skill set puts him into first-round consideration, though it seems fair to wonder about potential signability issues were he to slip too far down the board.

Excerpts from the experts

Keith Law (April, $): “Behind the plate, Ciuffo showed outstanding hands — he caught nearly everything that was catchable and kept his glove very steady after receiving the pitch, the first step towards the ability to ‘frame’ pitches.”

Chris Crawford (preseason, $): “He needs to show more willingness to go the other way with pitches, but he makes good contact and has shown a willingness to take pitches and work counts.”

Nick J. Faleris (May, $): “Ciuffo’s catch-and-throw game and receiving skills are both well above average, with a chance to ultimately play as plus.”

Franchise history at the position

Recent top picks Justin O’Conner (2010, supplemental round), Lucas Bailey (2009, fourth), Jake Jefferies (2008, third), and Nevin Ashley (2006, sixth) have failed to develop because of injuries and/or poor bats. Dig deeper in franchise history and the best catchers selected (and signed) were Toby Hall (1997, ninth), Shawn Riggans (2000, 24th), and John Jaso (2003, 12th).

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