Boston College junior catcher Nick Sciortino signed a professional contract with the Boston Red Sox on Friday, per the baseball team's official Twitter account
Sciortino, a junior out of Barrington, NJ, was drafted in the 17th round by the Red Sox in this year's draft, his first year of eligibility while playing the college game. One of the team's captains, he hit .271 this year with two home runs and 22 RBI while posting a .372 on-base percentage.
But it was his prowess behind the plate that made him an intriguing prospect. Named to the Johnny Bench Watch List during the 2016 season, he threw out 20 runners while allowing only six passed balls. His ability to fire a snap throw after a pitch kept runners honest from cheating leads, and he developed a reputation as one of the most feared backstops in the nation.
This came after Sciortino was recruited as a middle infielder out of high school. The 18th best prospect out of New Jersey in the recruiting class of 2013, Sciortino was the top-rated middle infielding prospect from the Garden State and the 18th best MIF prospect in the nation. A 2013 Perfect Game/Rawlings Honorable Mention All-American selection, he was lightly recruited except for Boston College, who saw the potential in his arm.
"I thought he could be a pro catcher," said Mike Gambino during the season. "I didn't know, maybe, that he would be the defensive force like he is. He is as good asanyone in the country; I know I haven't seen the whole country, but if he's the best guy in our conference and we have the best conference in the country, it puts him right there."
The transition of a middle infielder to the catcher's role was simple enough to Sciortino. Because he had an infielder's body, he already had an incredibly quick release on his throw, something that allowed him to throw accurately with incredible velocity.
"If our pitchers (gave) him any chance at all," said Gambino after the Virginia Tech series, "then you're out. At second base, it's awesome, and it's the same at first base. If you get a half of a step too far, or you get leaning the wrong way, he can pick anyone off. He has base runners almost on the defensive when they're out on the bases. And that's combined with great leadership qualities. I don't know that you can ever expect someone to be that dominant, but it says a lot about his work ethic. It's a credit first to Coach (Scott) Friedholm and now Coach (Jim) Foster over the last two years."
It's a journey that began with development during his freshman season in 2014. That year, he appeared in 36 games, starting 32, only amassing a .192 batting average. He jumped to .235 last year, including eight doubles and 21 RBI, before becoming one of the Eagles better hitters this past season. This year, he steadily moved up in the order until he was hitting in the top three of the lineup, and his efforts included a walkoff winner against Wake Forest as part of a doubleheader during the ALS Awareness Day where BC retired Pete Frates' number.
During his freshman season, he caught 13 runners stealing in 36 games, upping that number to 17 in his sophomore year with five additional pick offs. In that sophomore season, he also committed only one error in 381 chances.
This past summer, Sciortino jumped onto the national stage with a solid performance with the Chatham Anglers of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Sharing time with Richmond's Kyle Adams and Pepperdine's Aaron Barnett, he caught 17 runners stealing, best in the league, while accounting for a .990 fielding percentage in just 23 games. For his efforts, he was named the Ed Lyons Coaches' Award winner, given annually to the player that exceeds expectations with hard work for the club.
Sciortino now joins a Red Sox farm system currently devoid of younger catching prospects. While both Christian Vasquez and Sandy Leon are on the major league roster, the team lacks a top-20 prospect in the area. Their best prospect currently in the pipeline, per the website SoxProspects.com, is Austin Rei, a 2015 third round pick who is currently with the Greenville Drive and ranked 28th.