Having taken a college pitcher with the #4 pick with Asa Lacy, the Royals turned to a bat with the #32 pick, selecting Baylor shorstop Nick Loftin in the competitive balance round. Loftin hit .323/.380/.502 with six home runs in 53 games last year for the Bears, and was hitting .298/.339/.544 with two home runs in 14 games so far this year.
Loftin hails from Corpus Christi, Texas and was immediately a starter at Baylor, hitting .306 his freshman season. Baseball America ranks him as the #29 prospect in this draft, “solidly in the mix of the top shortstops in the college class.” Loftin is an above-average defender at shortstop who is solid, but not flashy. Scouts seem to think he could stick at shortstop, but he is versatile enough to play all over the field if needed, and has experience in both the infield and outfield. He began to hit for more power this year, although Baseball America cites scouts as saying his power is “fringe-average.”
Loftin doesn’t walk much but he hardly ever strikes out, whiffing less than ten percent of the time in college. He doesn’t excel in any one area of the game, but is a terrific overall talent, able to do a little bit of everything. Keith Law describes him as one of the “safest bets” in the draft. Loftin has average speed and has not been a major threat to steal in college.
The Royals seem to have opted for a high floor player who could at least be a useful utility player if not a starter up the middle. They have shown a preference to acquiring players who are capable of playing both middle infield and outfield, trading for Kevin Merrell last summer and drafting Brady McConnell last June. Loftin may not be a huge impact player, but he could be a solid piece to the puzzle that can put the ball in play and make something happen.