Nick Ciuffo scouting report
Drafted 21st overall by the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013, Nick Ciuffo has had an up-and-down career thus far, repeating rookie ball for two straight summers before finding his way beginning in 2015—only to get injured midway through 2016 at High-A with the Charlotte Stone Crabs. A short rehab stint in the Gulf Coast League and the loss of more than half the summer season necessitated his participation in the Arizona Fall League in October.
Selected originally as a bat-first catcher, Ciuffo’s offensive profile hasn’t quite come along as Tampa Bay’s brass has likely hoped. That said, he’s impressed with his ability behind the plate as a receiver and pitch framer, and a strong arm may well be his best trait moving forward as a catcher. A good showing with the Peoria Javelinas last October, especially behind the plate, has his stock back on the rise entering 2017, and it appears Ciuffo has overcome the hand injury that robbed him of a portion of his 2016 summer in the Florida State League.
Nick Ciuffo scouting report — physical tools and projection
Ciuffo is far from a power hitter to this point in his career, and a short, compact left-handed stroke has him typically looking up the middle in his approach. He could fill out and gain some strength that might allow him to develop some power, but it’s more likely that he’ll become a gap-to-gap hitter who can knock his fair share of doubles. There’s a fair amount of swing-and-miss to his game, too, and so it’s probably not likely he’ll ever hit for average.
Behind the plate is where Ciuffo is starting to draw strong marks, and his scouting report back there has him as a leader for his pitching staff, and a capable defender who can frame, block, and throw—with his throwing arm arguably being his strongest trait at this point in his career.
With pop times that were among the very best during the AFL season last October, and enough athleticism to handle pitchers and block balls and bounce around behind the plate, Ciuffo unquestionably has a future as a backstop. With that, he should get a good look from the Rays by 2018, if all goes well. Furthermore, MLB Pipeline singles out one very important trait in their Nick Ciuffo scouting report: his ability to mentally handle a pitching staff.
Nick Ciuffo scouting report — what’s ahead in 2017
Considering how up-and-down Ciuffo’s career has been thus far, it’s a boon for the Rays that he’ll still only enter the 2017 season as a 22-year-old. And while he has just 59 games of career experience above the Low-A level of the minors, Ciuffo’s relatively strong showing at the AFL last fall ought to make the Rays somewhat more optimistic that—if he can stay healthy and on the field—2017 could be a year for Ciuffo to take on the Double-A Southern League.
Regardless, Ciuffo will at the very least start 2017 in the Florida State League, and could move relatively quickly if he shows a bit of improvement at the plate to go along with his rapidly improving catching game. Beyond that, it’s not out of the realm of possibilities that he could get a big league look by the end of 2018 if all goes right. While it’d be wise to stop short of calling Ciuffo the Rays’ catcher of the future, he could easily parlay this into significant big league time over the next several seasons, especially if his rapidly improving pitch-calling and staff-handling traits continue to develop.
Nick Ciuffo scouting report — get more below
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Tampa Bay Rays: Team Page | News Archives
Arizona Fall League: Team Page | News Archives
Peoria Javelinas: Team Page | News Archives
Florida State League: Team Page | News Archives
Charlotte Stone Crabs: Team Page | News Archives
Gulf Coast League Rays: Team Page | News Archives