Rays Take Ciuffo 21st in MLB Draft

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By Sports Department

(WOLO) -- The Tampa Bay Rays selected Nick Ciuffo 21st overall in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft Thursday night.

Ciuffo, the SC Gatorade high school player of the year after leading Lexington to its first class AAAA title since 1999, is the third straight Rays first round pick from South Carolina.

Last year, Tampa Bay picked Clemson third baseman Richie Shaffer 25th overall.

In 2011, the Rays selected Spring Valley High School pitcher Taylor Guerreri 24th overall.

"I kind of had a feeling that the Rays were where I was going to go," Ciuffo said on MLB Network's live broadcast of the draft. "I've got a buddy, Taylor Guerreri who is in the organization right now, and he told me that they got a great organization, and I'm just looking forward to getting in there and start playing."

The 21st overall pick is slotted to make $1,974,700.

Ciuffo had said before the draft that he was "50-50" on whether to turn pro out of high school or play college baseball at USC.

In the 2012 draft, the first high school player to choose college baseball over pro ball was the 95th pick.

Ciuffo is the highest Lexington player ever taken in the Major League Draft. Brandon Cromer is the only other Wildcat first round draft pick. In 1992, Toronto picked Brandon Cromer 34th overall.

Fellow Gamecock signee Travis Demeritte, a shortstop from Statham, GA, was also picked in the first round. The Texas Rangers took Demeritte 30th overall.

Pittsburgh picked Clemson signee Austin Meadows 9th overall. The outfielder from Grayson, GA is slotted to sign for $3,029,600.

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