Mack - The first question is always an easy one, though it might take you a little time to finish it. Take us back to that first day a baseball was placed in your hand and take us up to day. I’m talking 8-11yr. old years, travel teams, positions, coaches, etc.
Nick - I've been playing baseball for as long as I can remember. Everyday since I have been big enough to handle and bat and a ball I've played baseball. For the most part I have always been a catcher. I tried to play the infield and other positions but basically got bored. I wanted to control the game and be the "coach" on the field. I first played travel ball when iIwas 11 years old. My first coach was Nick Cummings. My first catching coach was Johnnie Cribb (caught at the citadel). I played for the Diamond Warriors until i was 14. My last tournament was with the 18u team in Atlanta. I played for Eddy Barwick, David Wolfe, Matt Ishee. I then went to play for the SC Diamond Devils. I played for the 15u team for a summer when I was 14 and played for Ashley Farr. The next fall was my freshman fall of HS when i played for the 18u team. i played for John Rhodes who I I still play for now.
Mack - Nick, PG says “Outstanding at PG National, 1.83 pop time and very good left handed bat with power”… tell us a little about your game from your perspective.
Nick - There is always room for improvement with every players game. Everyday there is something that you can get better at. I feel like right now the best parts of my game are all around defense, knowledge/maturity when playing the game, and hitting. Defensively I feel like I have an above average arm/release and good fundamentals blocking and receiving behind the dish. With my bat I have good power but am still working on getting it to translate all the time into the games. And last, with knowledge/maturity level I feel like I know the game very well. As a young kid I basically lived at the College of Charleston baseball field. Most kids learn from their dads or rec league coaches, I learned from college coaches and players, so the only way I knew how to play the game was at the Division 1 college level. I learned from Cougar greats like Brett Gardner(LF for the Yankees), Brandon Siezmore, Chris Campell, and many other players who were drafted. I learned just as much about the physical part of the game as I did the mental. I learned things like how to think through at bats and how to call a game and control a pitching staff.
Mack - Nick, you play for a killer school that is ranked 9th nationally and 3rd in the state. Do you find there is an extra amount of pressure on you as a player when you have this kind of schedule to defend each season?
Nick - I am asked questions about pressure a lot, but through my 3 HS seasons the most pressure I felt was when I was catching Drew Cisco my freshman year at Wando. He was a 6th round draft pick by the Reds. He was such a good pitcher and expected a lot out of himself and also expected a lot out of me. If I wasn't on my "A" game every time i caught him it made him look bad and as a 14 year old freshman on a varsity team you don't want to disappoint the best player and someone I had looked up to for many years. If it wasn't for the pressure he put on me as a young player catching him my defensive game would not be as good as it is.
Other then that I always put pressure on myself to be the best whether I am representing Lexington High School, myself, or the United States of America. But overall yes, when playing for a good team like we had at Lexington it's always more pressure when playing on one of the best teams in the state and in the country.
Mack - Here’s an indie scout’s thoughts on you: “C-1b, Nick Ciuffo (shoe-fo) (American Legion) 6'1 190, L/R, one of better hitters in tourney, shows good presence as a fielder, idea as receiver, with arm strength, also pop in his bat, with some power, had some trouble vs. LHP, but there is something there to work with, Lexington HS, Lexington SC, watch him in 2013, has gotten a bit better last 3 yrs. I've seen him.” – Thoughts?
Nick - Those are all good points. The biggest thing that sticks out in that statement about me is the LHP comment. During HS I saw a lot of lefties. It had been a while since I had seen a lefty and I feel like that was a big reason why I struggled. During HS when I would see a lefty almost every game I felt very comfortable and hit well against them.
Mack - You transferred from another great school, Wando. Did you find any new challenges with that process?
Nick - There weren't very many challenges moving to the new school. After about 2 days it was like I had lived there my entire life. The team was very accepting of me on and off the field. The biggest challenge on the field was learning the pitchers, the way they liked to pitch and what their biggest issues mechanically were. Off the field in the school it was learning where the classes were and how to get around the school.
Mack - Lastly, I’m sure you’ve been busy this summer. Have you played at any level and what are you doing to get ready for the most important season of your young lifetime?
Nick - This is a summer I have been waiting on for a long time. I have been preparing for this summer my entire career. Still today just like my whole life I try to improve on every aspect of the game every day. The only difference this summer that I've done different is I've taken time off. I've played so much baseball that I have had to take time off before I play the next 3 week
Mack – Thanks Nick. Email me your schedule when you get it and I’ll drive up (around 100 miles) and catch the game you want me attend.