The timing couldn't have been better: Nick Ciuffo completed his best minor league season just as Major League Baseball rosters were allowed to expand.
The reward for the Mount Pleasant native was a call-up Monday to the Tampa Bay Rays for his first big league action. He started at catcher Monday night in a 7-1 win at Toronto and went 0-for-4 with a run scored.
Ciuffo, 23, was the Rays' first-round draft pick in 2013 (the 21st overall player selected). He hit .262 this season at Triple-A Durham with five home runs and 28 runs batted in and continued to play the excellent defense that has been his calling card: two errors in 60 games.
The former Wando and Lexington high school player joined a Rays team that was 73-63, 20 games out of first place in the American League East.
Ciuffo committed to play baseball at South Carolina but opted to turn pro after helping Lexington win a state championship. He missed the first 50 games of the 2017 season while serving a suspension for a failed drug test.
Major league rosters can expand from 25 players after Sept. 1, and big league clubs often call up top minor league players for the last month of the season.