ST. PETERSBURG, FL-The Tampa Bay Rays selected catcher Nick Ciuffo (SHOO-fo) from Lexington (S.C.) High School with the No. 21 overall pick and right-handed pitcher Ryne Stanek (STAN-eck) from the University of Arkansas with the No. 29 overall pick in the first round of the 2013 Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft.
Ciuffo, 18, is the first catcher ever taken by the Rays with their first overall pick. He was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 22 overall prospect in the draft, No. 2 catcher, No. 1 out of the state of South Carolina and No. 11 among high school players. He was also ranked as the No. 23 overall prospect by MLB.com.
As a senior at Lexington (S.C.) High School, he led his team to a state championship (AAAA) and was named the 2013 South Carolina Gatorade Player of the Year after hitting .468 with five home runs, 33 RBI, a .723 slugging percentage and .562 on-base percentage. He was also named a 2013 Rawlings Preseason All-American and a 2012 Under Armour All-American. In 123 career high school games, he hit .401 with 11 home runs and 93 RBI.
Ciuffo is the first high school catcher from the state of South Carolina ever taken in the first round of the draft. The only other catcher in draft history selected in the first round out of South Carolina was Landon Powell, selected by Oakland in 2004 at No. 24 overall out of the University of South Carolina. Ciuffo has committed to play at the University of South Carolina, which offered him a scholarship at the age of 14 before he had ever played a varsity game. He played youth baseball with Taylor Guerrieri, the Rays first overall pick in 2011
(No. 24 overall).
Stanek, 21, was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 13 overall prospect in the draft, No. 5 right-handed pitcher, No. 1 out of the state of Arkansas and No. 8 among college juniors. He was also named the top prospect from the Southeastern Conference (SEC) by Baseball America and Perfect Game. As a junior at the University of Arkansas, he went 10-2 with a 1.39 ERA in 16 starts. For his college career, he went 22-8 with a 2.55 ERA in 48 appearances (45 starts).
Among his accolades, the right-hander was selected as the preseason SEC Pitcher of the Year by Baseball America, named to the midseason watch list for the USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award and a selected as a preseason All-American by Baseball America, Collegiate Baseball Newspaper and Perfect Game. In 2012, he pitched for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team.
He was previously selected by the Seattle Mariners in the third round (99th overall) of the 2010 June Draft. He was named after Hall of Fame second baseman Ryne Sandberg despite being born into a family of St. Louis Cardinals fans.