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Nick Ciuffo suspended 50 games

Former first round selection tested positive for a drug of abuse

Minor League Baseball: Arizona Fall League-Scottsdale Scorpions at Peoria Javelinas Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Nick Ciuffo has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for the second time with a drug of abuse.

Ciuffo was the Rays 1st round selection (21st overall) in the 2013 draft. His progress through the team’s system has been slow, but he was slated to be the Durham Bulls starting catcher to kick off the 2018 season.

Despite being a first round selection, Ciuffo has never been very highly ranked in the Rays system with Baseball America naming him the team’s 7th best prospect following his selection year. His status has been trending downward since. However, in 2017, he did produce the best offensive campaign of his career while in Double-A Montgomery, slashing .245/.319/.385 with 7 HR over 102 games.

Ciuffo’s main contributions come from behind the plate rather than with the bat as his catching prowess has earned rave reviews. This should propel into the majors at some point at least as a backup catcher.

Ciuffo was left off the Rays 40-man roster this past November, leaving him exposed for the Rule 5 Draft, but he wasn’t taken. Heading into camp, he was expected to compete with several other catchers for the backup - backup catcher position, but with news of his suspension he moves further down the depth chart.