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Rays Add Another Arm In Nick Bitsko

Nick Bitsko wasn’t supposed to be in the position to get drafted Wednesday night. As Baseball America’s former No. 1 prep player in the 2021 class, this was supposed to be the righthander’s junior year of high school.

But Bitsko, who was selected 24th overall by the Rays, made the decision to reclassify for the 2020 class this past winter in an attempt to further his development.

“Obviously, the whole reclassification thing, it was more from a developmental standpoint, it wasn’t just to get drafted or anything like that or to go to school. It was more to further my career,” Bitsko said to media members Wednesday night. “Obviously, I thought I was ready this last summer of doing the whole summer circuit and everything. I think I made the right decision overall to advance my career and get to the next level to play against better competition wherever I go.”

With no baseball being played, Bitsko was unable to suit up for one more season with Central Bucks East (Pa.) High. Instead, he used some of that time away from the field to work on the analytical side of his game through Rapsodo, something he had never done before, while working on his bullpen sessions and studying his pitches in an effort to improve himself. In doing so, he said he learned more about himself as a pitcher.

“I think it was a combination of how good my stuff actually was, not to be overconfident, but I think I never really got to look at it from an analytical standpoint and actually break down the numbers and compare myself to big leaguers now,” Bitsko said.

Bitsko, the No. 3 prep pitcher in the BA 500, has an impressive repertoire to go along with a projectable build at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, and he impressed Rays evaluators during last summer’s showcase circuit. His fastball sat 92-96 mph at East Coast Pro and he pairs the pitch with a future plus curveball that produces depth and impressive spin and a clean, repeatable windup. But it’s the 17-year-old’s work ethic that stood out to Rays general manager Erik Neander.

“Aptitude, maturity, really good head on his shoulders. I think really everything you’d want to see, but for just more game exposure this spring,” Neander said.

The next step for the Rays will be to convince Bitsko to forego his commitment to Virginia. If he does sign, he will immediately become one of the top pitching prospects for an organization that continually develops solid starting pitchers.

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