Maryland Draft Preview: C Nick Cieri

By: Matt Present and Jon Lewis

Ht: 6’3″       Wt: 240           Class: Jr.             Bats / Throws: L / R

Hometown: Hainesport, NJ (Rancocas Valley Regional HS)

2016 Stats

AB: 180          Slash Line: .262 / .379 / .367          HR: 3       RBI: 29        K-Rate: 11%

Nick Cieri came to College Park as a highly touted athlete with very solid hitting tools.  Cieri, was taken as a 32nd rounder by the San Francisco Giants out of Rancocas Valley HS in South Jersey.  Cieri, who played infield for the majority of his high school career, transitioned to catcher as a senior in high school and was drafted by the Giants as such.  

Nick Cieri is off to a hot start on summer ball's biggest stage. Photo: Alexander Jonesi
Photo by Alexander Jonesi

In 2014, Cieri split time behind the dish and as the team’s DH and put up decent numbers.  In 2015,  Cieri broke his hamate bone and missed a good chunk of the year, but was able to make 37 starts, 31 as the team’s DH and 6 behind the dish as Kevin Martir (2015 18th Round, HOU) was in the midst of an All-American year behind the plate. Cieri flashed some of that raw hit ability, hitting a solid .299 albeit with only 5 extra base hits.  

It was the summer of 2015 that was absolutely vital for Cieri.  Invited to play in the prestigious Cape Cod League, Cieri had a breakout campaign facing some of the nation’s best pitchers with a wood bat in his hand amassing a .319 batting average.  Another key for Cieri was his ability to stick behind the dish last summer to hone his catch-and-throw skills while catching some of the nation’s elite pitchers.  Cieri performed well enough to be named the starting catcher for the West team in the Cape Cod League All-Star Game.  However, his lack of extra-base pop again would be a theme, as he only amassed one extra base hit in his 91 regular-season at bats.

Coach John Szefc and junior Nick Cieri talk before Cieri's at bat 5/7/16 Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network
Photo By Hannah Evans/MBN

A very solid offensive Cape season at a premier defensive position created some draft helium for Cieri, where he was ranked in Perfect Game USA’s and Baseball America’s top 500 prospects coming into the year.   The 2016 season was a bit of a struggle for Cieri with the stick, as he hit to a tune of a .249/.362/.375 line. However, Cieri was able to amass 13 extra base hits, including three home runs, and walked more than he struck out.  

Pros: Great plate discipline, good power

Cons: Not a great arm, poor speed

Present: While Ceiri did not have a great 2016 campaign, he did end the year on a high note, going 7-12, with a double, home run, and three walks in the Big Ten Tournament. The walk numbers are really something that stands out, for Cieri. He led the team with 31 free passes, and was really good at pitch identification, and strike zone discipline all season long, even when the hits weren’t falling. That’s a valuable asset that shouldn’t go unnoticed. I have a feeling teams will put more stock in his potential than in his 2016 numbers, and judging by his size and how hard he swings, the power numbers will come. However, Cieri threw out just two runners in 24 chances this season, so the defensive concerns that surround him might make him a later round selection.

Junior Nick Cieri reaches to tag a Purdue player out 4/24/26 Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network
Photo by Hannah Evans/MBN

Lewis: Cieri is a big bodied guy with below average speed and concerns as to whether he will be able to stick behind the dish for the long term, and lack of an in-game track record in regards to his raw power.  His draft stock is contingent on a multitude of things:  Can he stick behind the dish?  Will evaluators be able to put a tough spring 2016 in the rear-view mirror, and remember the Cieri who hit .319 in the Cape?  Do scouts believe he can tap into his raw power? If scouts believe he can stick behind the plate, his hit tool stands out, and Cieri could hear his name called in the middle rounds.  If scouts are less convinced he can catch and is forced to move over to first-base, Cieri’s lack of in-game pop will prove to hinder his draft stock.

Range: Mid- Late (20-30)

20-80 Scale (50 is Big League average)

Hit: 55       Power: 40         Field: 45       Throw: 35        Run: 20          Overall: 40

* Matt Present did play-by-play for the Maryland Terrapins in 2015 and 2016

* Jon Lewis is a former college baseball player and provided color analysis on MBN broadcasts in 2015. He is pursuing a career in professional scouting.

To view all the Terps’ Draft Previews, click here.

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