MLB Draft Preview: C Nick Cieri

Nick Cieri – C

Ht: 6’3”           Wt: 250           Year:  Sr.           Bats/Throws:  L/R

Hometown (HS): Hainesport, N.J. (Rancocas Valley Regional)

2017 Stats

G: 38 (24 GS)    AB: 88     Slash Line: .216/.395/.330     HR: 2     RBI: 17        K-Rate: 15.3%        BB-Rate: 20.5%

Previously Drafted: 2013 – 32nd Round, 972 Overall – San Francisco Giants

Background: Originally drafted out of high school by the San Francisco Giants, Nick Cieri instead decided to play college ball for Maryland. As a freshman in 2014, he split time between catcher and designated hitter, batting .248 with eight doubles in 48 games. The lefty-swinging backstop took a big step forward his sophomore year, he hit .299 with five doubles and three homers despite missing 27 games with a broken hamate bone. He again saw most of his action at DH, with Kevin Martir in front of him on the depth chart at catcher.

Senior Nick Cieri gets a hit. (Hannah Evans/Maryland Baseball Network)

After a strong summer in the Cape Cod League (.319 in 30 games) and with Martir gone, Cieri was primed to be a central piece in the Maryland lineup in 2016. He made 53 starts between catcher and DH, but despite setting career highs with nine doubles and 29 RBIs, saw his average dip to .256. His struggles continued in 2017, his senior campaign, as he hit .216 with two homers and four doubles in 38 games as part of a three-man catching rotation. Cieri did maintain his patient eye at the plate, getting on-base at a .395 clip, good for fourth on the Terps, despite a .216 average that ranked tenth on the team.

While Cieri has had an up-and-down career at the plate with the Terps, he has continually excelled in wood-bat summer leagues. In 82 career games between the Cape Cod and Ripken leagues, he owns a .316 career average.

Outlook: After back-to-back strong summers, Cieri had the opportunity to bounce back from a disappointing junior season and end his collegiate career on a high note. Instead, he struggled at the plate and eventually lost playing time to Justin Morris and Danny Maynard, who both came on strong offensively at different points in the season. His poor average is compounded by the fact that he doesn’t run well, and for someone who profiles more as a designated hitter, has little pop (67.3 AB/HR for his career). The New Jersey native is a question mark defensively as well, as he has never proved to be a strong catcher behind the plate, and has struggled throughout his career to throw runners out.

While Cieri has struggled over the past couple seasons, one thing that should not be overlooked is his patience at the plate. He has walked (81) more times in his collegiate career than he has struck out (77), and has the ability to work deep counts and see a lot of pitches. He may not be the most consistent offensive force, but a team that likes his patience and believes he can develop more power may take a flier on the left-handed hitting catcher in the later rounds.