The Ray’s newest addition, Nick Bitsko, doesn’t know when he’ll get the chance to throw his first pitch. But he was still eager to get started and signed on Tuesday for a $3 million bonus.
“I think it’s a great day, obviously a big, I guess, relief … not having to worry about the shenanigans and stuff like that,” Bitsko said. “It’ll be fun to see how I develop this summer.”
Right away Bitsko got to work, meeting with Rays director of pitching development Dewey Robinson to discuss a throwing program.
“For myself being young, I think obviously the way baseball is going nowadays, it’s a young game,” Bitsko said. “It’s not the old guys getting paid anymore. … I think youth is valued so obviously getting in early and getting my timeline and stuff like that accelerated, I guess, helps me as well trying to get to the big leagues.”
The 18-year-old pitcher said he cut back on his throwing leading up to the draft, not knowing when he will need to be ready to pitch.
“Obviously there is really no timeline now when baseball will be back, at least minor-league wise,” Bitskosaid. “Hopefully we can get something going in late summer and into the fall, so just trying to not waste bullets I would say.”
Bitsko stands at 6′ 4″ and 220 pounds with a 98.5 mph fastball. But that’s not the only thing he’s got going for him. He displayed maturity and dedication during a one-hour Zoom call with Rays officials, which made him even more appealing.
“Nick is an exceptionally talented young man and we are thrilled to have him in the Rays organization,” amateur scouting director Rob Metzler said. “We identified him last summer as an elite power starting pitching prospect. Nick’s physical attributes — size, arm action, delivery and athleticism — paired with an advanced maturity and professional focus, should give him a great chance to compete his way through the system. This was a unique situation with a high school arm who didn’t get on the mound this season. We are very thankful for the work of Zach Clark and (regional supervisor) Brian Hickman amongst many within the amateur scouting department that put us in position to make this selection.”