The Rays have signed their top draft pick, catcher Nick Ciuffo from South Carolina.
Nick Ciuffo is officially a #Rays catcher. Signed this morning. Says he "wants to play for 50 years" pic.twitter.com/0u9rF7T3Hu— Bobby Lewis (@Bobby_L) June 21, 2013
Ciuffo was drafted at No. 21, and was widely connected to the Rays throughout the mock draft season. He has the tools to hit for power and stay at the catcher position throughout his big league career. His receiving and throwing skills are highly regarded.
Jim Callis reports Ciuffo signed for his exact slot value of $1,974,700.
It's not uncommon for high school athletes to demand a higher-than-recommended signing price to give up on attending a university of their choice, and Ciuffo -- a South Carolina native -- seemed to be quite the fan. Ciuffo was committed to the University of South Carolina, and his signing was not a guarantee.
The lefty batted .453 for Lexington High School in South Carolina, and started every game at catcher.
For more on slot values, read this excellent breakdown by Baseball America.
#Rays have signed 1st rd pick Nick Ciuffo. He's come a long way since his first @MLB game at the Trop in '99: pic.twitter.com/9jh1W0qAsp— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 21, 2013
You can follow Nick on twitter:
It's official! I'm officially a #ray headed to port charlotte now. Ready to start my professional career.— Nick Ciuffo (@nciuffo14) June 21, 2013
Ciuffo is the second high school catching draftee with power potential the Rays have signed.
Hunter Lockwood was taken by Tampa Bay in the 11th round, and the team spent $247,500 to sign the potential slugger.
As Baseball America noted in the article linked above, signing a prospect after the 10th round for more that $100,000 will count against the cap for paying other draftees.
You can read a full profile on Lockwood from our contributor Robbie Knopf at Rays Colored Glasses.