Rays First Rounder Nick Ciuffo Laces Triple Off Rehabbing Big Leaguer Nick Blackburn

Nick Ciuffo, the Rays’ first round pick in this year’s draft, is a very talented prospect. Just because he’s talented, though, doesn’t mean he could play in the major leagues right now and put up anywhere near respectable numbers. If he faced a big league pitcher, we would assume that the 18 year old Ciuffo would strike out or at least put the ball in play weakly. If he somehow got a hit, it would be a groundball going through a hole or a bloop dropping in, certainly not any type of hit with authority. It’s just common sense. But sometimes common sense is wrong. Nick Ciuffo faced a major league pitcher and ended up with a whole lot more than a single.

Twins right-hander Nick Blackburn is currently rehabbing in the Gulf Coast League after undergoing surgeries on his elbow and wrist on his right throwing arm over the offseason. He was released by the Twins and re-signed to a minor league deal, allowing him to rehab in the GCL as opposed to another level and take as much time as he needs. Considering Blackburn way down in the GCL, the lowest level of affiliated baseball in America, you know that he’s a long time away from returning and there’s a chance he never will. However, with Blackburn having over 800 big league innings under his belt, even a shadow of his former self is enough to prevent Rookie ball hitters from doing much against him. In 8 innings, he has allowed 2 runs on 9 hits, but he has struck out 5 without allowing a walk or a home run. Overall, he has allowed two extra-base hits. One was a double to 23 year old St. John’s product Danny Bethea, the Red Sox’ 34th round pick in this year’s draft.* The second was to 18 year old Ciuffo in the 2nd inning of Wednesday game.

Blackburn left a fastball up and the lefty-swinging Ciuffo destroyed it, slamming a line drive into the right field corner for a triple. You could dismiss it as one errant pitch and one lucky swing, but the facts are the facts. The Rays’ first round pick drilled a triple off of a former big league pitcher. And in a few years, the Rays hope Ciuffo will be hitting the ball similarly as hard off of major league pitchers on a regular basis.

*Coincidentally, the 34th round of the 2000 MLB Draft was when the Rays selected Blackburn, although he didn’t sign.

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Tags: Minnesota Twins Nick Blackburn Nick Ciuffo Tampa Bay Rays

  • Andrew van Laar

    And this is news because….? This has got to be one of the worse articles I have ever seen on this site. A player getting a bad pitch and putting some lumber on it does not constitute news Rob.

    • Robbie_Knopf

      It’s for precisely that reason that this article wasn’t titled “Rays Roundup” or “Rays Notes.” It’s not news–I just thought it was cool.

      • Joey

        Hey Rob, I’m actually against this pick, so any news or signs that I might be wrong are pretty cool. The fact that it was off Blackburn makes it a tad bit sweeter.

        • Robbie_Knopf

          Certainly entitled to that opinion and only time will tell whether he will be a worthy selection. What didn’t you like about him and who would you have selected instead?

          • Joey

            My friend’s son went to HS with him and they watched a bunch of his games. I called up there before the draft to get some info on him. Two complaints probably more minor than anything, but the competition was sub par leading to some inflated stats and his attitude behind the scenes is questionable. Their overall impression was part cocky/self entitlement. After I heard that, my Josh Sale alarm went off.

          • tbs

            Going out on a limb here – but I’m guessing the Rays did some checking on him too.

          • Joey

            Hopefully its not the same level of background checking as they did on Josh Sale.

  • sdwalker73

    Any news on Rays prospects is cool, thanks for the update Rob. Hopefully he can be on the Rays radar in a few years!!!