Lowcountry native Nick Ciuffo was taken with the 21st overall selection of the 1st round in Thursday's Major League Baseball Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Ciuffo, who started his high school career at Wando before moving to Lexington for his final 2 seasons, must now decide between signing with the Rays or heading to college. He committed to South Carolina before his first game of his Freshman season and signed with the Gamecocks back in the fall.
The money will certainly be hard for the catcher to pass up. The 21st pick has a slot value of $1.9 million. But Tampa Bay could sweeten the offer a bit to get Ciuffo signed. If he doesn't sign, he wouldn't be eligible for the draft again until after his Junior season of college.
Ciuffo expressed his gratitude on Twitter late Thursday saying "Thank you to everyone for the congratulations and support. So happy to be apart of the #rays"
"We like his tools and [his] chance to be an everyday catcher in the big leagues," scouting director R.J. Harrison told MLB.com. "He's a high school kid that's going to start his journey and work his way through the Minor Leagues. He's got a plus arm, [he's an] average defender, and we like his bat and power. And he's a tough kid. We like the kid."
Ciuffo had a season to remember in 2013 leading Lexington to the AAAA state championship while also being named the Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of South Carolina. Overall in his 4 years of high school he hit .401 with 11 HR's and 93 RBI.