ST. PETERSBURG - — This year's Major League Baseball draft was shortened from 40 rounds to five due to COVID-19. The first round was Wednesday night, with rounds two through five to follow on Thursday.
The Tampa Bay Rays selected right-handed pitcher Nick Bitsko from Central Bucks East (Penn.) High School with the 24th overall pick.
Bitsko, 17, went a combined 4-2 with a 1.27 ERA (6 earned runs in 33 innings pitched) and 68 strikeouts over his freshman and sophomore high school seasons and entered the 2020 season as Pennsylvania’s reigning Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year and a Perfect Game preseason All-American.
The teen hurler was ranked among the top-20 overall players in this year’s draft by several publications: No. 14 by MLB.com, No. 15 by ESPN.com, No. 16 by FanGraphs, No. 18 by The Athletic and No. 19 by Baseball America. In January, he announced his decision to graduate from high school early, making him eligible for this year’s June Draft.
Bitsko's final high school season was scheduled to begin in April but was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the time of his reclassification, he was ranked by Baseball America as the No. 1 prospect in their 2021 high school draft rankings.
Bitsko has volunteered with the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation and has completed multiple service-mission trips to the Dominican Republic.
The Rays added Arizona State shortstop Alika Williams with the 37th overall pick (acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals).
Williams was a .300 career hitter in three seasons with the Sun Devils.