Get to know Wake Forest slugger Nick Kurtz

May 11th, 2024

When a college prospect draws comparisons to a Hall of Fame slugger, it's best to take notice. So pay attention to Nick Kurtz.

Wake Forest's power-hitting lefty is the standout hitter on one of the best college teams in the country, a team that also happens to be stacked with potential Major League talent – which should tell you something about his skills, and why he's among the top prospects in the 2024 MLB Draft.

Here's what you need to know about the Demon Deacons' junior.

1B, OF
Ht/Wt: 6-foot-5, 240 lbs.
B/T: Left/left
DOB: March 12, 2003
College: Wake Forest
High school: The Baylor School (Tennessee)
Born: Lancaster, Pa.
MLB Pipeline ranking: 4

A true slugger

Kurtz was originally recruited as a pitcher out of high school at The Baylor School in Chattanooga, Tenn., but it soon became apparent to Wake Forest that his bat was his greatest tool. And a fortuitous observation it was.

After slugging to a 1.108 OPS as a freshman, leading to Freshman All-American honors, Kurtz upped his game as a sophomore with a 1.311 OPS fueled by 24 homers and the fact that more than half of his 67 hits went for extra bases. That led to more honors, including a First Team All-ACC selection and being named a Golden Spikes Award semifinalist.

Kurtz has continued his slugging ways as a junior. Despite a slow start and a shoulder injury that cost him two weeks, he's still making plenty of noise with his bat (see his back-to-back ACC Player of the Week honors in April). He had a stretch of 14 homers in 10 games from March 31 through April 16, highlighted by three long balls against Virginia Tech on April 7.

'The best hitter I've ever coached'

As evidenced by a career batting average well north of .300, Kurtz is more than just a home run threat. His excellent bat speed allows him to drive the ball all over the field, and he hits lefties and righties equally well, with a strong knowledge of the strike zone – hence his .527 on-base percentage as a sophomore.

In other words, he's a tough out. Or, as Wake Forest head coach Tom Walter puts it, "He's got no weaknesses."

All this is why Kurtz has drawn comparisons to another lefty slugger, Hall of Famer Jim Thome.

"Sometimes I just sit back in awe and watch some of the things he does," Walter said of Kurtz. "He's like no hitter I've ever seen before. He's the best hitter I've ever coached."

'Make 'em feel you'

Wake Forest's team slogan – "Make 'em feel you" – is essentially a rallying cry the players use to help elicit maximum performance from themselves, not just in baseball but in life.

On the field, Kurtz is felt in multiple ways. For teammates, he might be felt with dugout cheerleading to fire up the squad. But ultimately, Kurtz wants opponents to feel him simply by what his presence represents – a scary at-bat.

And that starts with consistent confidence.

"I'm going to beat you and I'm going to do it as consistently as I can," he said.

Clubhouse leader

As Wake's co-captain in 2024, Kurtz is one of the team's emotional leaders. Not only does he keep things light in the clubhouse, but teammates say he makes everyone feel valued and helps maintain a sense of togetherness.

"He's a jokester. He kind of jokes around with everybody," said junior utility man Seaver King. "He tries to include everybody, too. So freshmen up to fifth years, we're always together and we're always cracking jokes."

But once on the field, the focus is clear – it's time to win.

"He's one of the toughest competitors I've ever met," Walter said.

Multisport athlete

Not only did Kurtz excel on the diamond during high school, he was good on the basketball court, too. He was an All-Region nominee twice and, in addition to his four letters in baseball, lettered three times on the hardwood.

"As Major League scouts would come through, we would introduce our guys, and then here would come 6-foot-5 Nick Kurtz exhausted from basketball practice," Mike Kinney, baseball coach at The Baylor School, said in a story for the school's athletics website. "We would always say, 'This one has got more potential than any of the others.'"