Former Wando standout expected to go early in MLB draft

MT. PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) -- With Thursday's start of the Major League Baseball draft, there is no doubt at all who the top pick from the state of South Carolina will be.

Mt. Pleasant native and former Wando High standout Nick Ciuffo transferred to Lexington High School two years ago and has continued to flourish. He's picked up plenty of attention from pro scouts.{}

"In the fall, I had 27 scouting meetings. Twenty-seven scouts from 27 teams came by my house. They got to meet me, took up some time." said Ciuffo. "Three to four scouts came every week. There are a lot more burdens than three or four MLB scouts coming to your house and taking your time."{}

What scouts see, they like: a left-handed, power-hitting, strong-armed catcher who just led his team to the 4-A state title.

"Every kid wants to play in the major leagues when they start. This is part of it. Going through nerves and the draft process with draft day coming up," Ciuffo said.{}

For Ciuffo, there is more to this than getting drafted, getting paid and diving into the world of minor league baseball. He has already signed a scholarship with his dream school, The University of South Carolina.{}

"Any kid would be excited to be in the position I'm in. Two things can happen: I get drafted and sign and play pro ball or I don't get drafted, don't sign and go to play at one of the best programs in the country. I'd say right now it's 50/50 whether I go to school or go play pro ball," Ciuffo said.

The screen on draft day will say Lexington, but Ciuffo is deeply rooted in the Lowcountry.

He spent his entire childhood as a bat boy for the College of Charleston where his father Tony Ciuffo worked in the athletics department.{}

"I'm thankful for CofC," said Nick Ciuffo. "Most kids have Dixie Youth and Little League coaches teach them. I was lucky. I was around Division I players, guys like Brett Gardner, Michael Kohn, Jeremie Tice. Those are guys that went to the pros and some of them the major leagues," Ciuffo said.{}

For Ciuffo now, it's hurry up and wait. He won't have to wait for any phone call however, he's one of seven players invited to New York City to attend the draft.{}

"It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. When discussing it with my parents, they asked, 'What if you don't go in Round One?' I said I'm not concerned with that. I'm getting an invite and this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,"{} Ciuffo said. "I don't want to sit in 20 years and say, 'Dang, I wish I would have gone.'"{}

There's no question, it won't take Nick Ciuffo long to be gone off the draft board on Thursday.