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Royals select versatile Baylor SS Loftin at No. 32

@FlannyMLB
June 11, 2020

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals may have found their next Whit Merrifield.

KANSAS CITY -- The Royals may have found their next Whit Merrifield.

Draft Tracker: Complete pick-by-pick coverage

With the No. 32 pick, part of the Competitive Balance Round A, in the MLB Draft on Wednesday, the Royals took Baylor shortstop Nick Loftin, a 21-year-old who has played infield and outfield.

2020 Draft Central

MLB Pipeline, which ranked Loftin the No. 36 overall prospect in the Draft, wrote: “Using an efficient right-handed swing, Loftin focuses on making contact and ranked 12th in NCAA Division I with 13.8 at-bats per strikeout as a sophomore. While he does have some sneaky power, he's mostly content with hitting line drives to all fields. He has average speed out of the batter's box and isn't much of a threat to steal, though he is faster once he gets going.”

The slot value for the No. 32 pick is $2,257,300.

With their first pick, the Royals took Texas A&M left-hander Asa Lacy at No. 4. Lacy was considered by MLB Pipeline to be the top left-hander in the Draft.

The Draft continues on Thursday with Rounds 2-5. The MLB Network preview show begins at 3 p.m. CT, with live coverage on MLB Network and ESPN2 beginning at 4 p.m. CT. Go to MLB.com/Draft for complete coverage, including every pick on the Draft Tracker, coverage and analysis from MLB Pipeline’s Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo, the complete order of selection and more. And follow @MLBDraft and @MLBDraftTracker on Twitter.

Scouts have indicated Loftin has superior baseball instincts that allow him to play faster than his normal speed. The Royals believe his character is “off the charts” as well.

“We were ecstatic to get Nick at No. 32,” Royals assistant general manager/scouting Lonnie Goldberg said. “You compared him to Whit and they are similar. But Nick can play shortstop and he’s a very good shortstop. But he has bounced all over the field.

“But he’s a gamer and a winner. Team USA said this kid had the best makeup on the field. We think there’s power in the bat. We think there’s a lot of ceiling in him.”

The Royals rated Loftin so high that general manager Dayton Moore said they might have taken him at No. 4 had Lacy not fallen to them.

“That’s how thrilled we are with this process,” Moore said. “About 10 days ago, we were comparing Austin Martin and Nick Loftin. And truthfully, there was a split camp on that because of Nick’s ability to play shortstop.

“We were sweating it out big time whether or not Nick Loftin would get to us.”

Martin went at No. 5 to Toronto.

In 2019, Loftin hit .323 with an .882 OPS, including 18 doubles and six home runs. This year, he posted an .883 OPS before the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the season.

Getting both Loftin and Lacy on the same day was not a scenario the Royals believed could happen.

“There were some power arms available,” Moore said of Lacy. “But with the impact, the experience, the closeness to the Major Leagues [Lacy has], no, we didn’t think a guy like that would be available to us. Frankly, we were more focused on [the] position-player crop.

“And to get Nick Loftin as well ... these guys are both winners.”

Added Goldberg, “It was a good day for us. A good day.”

Jeffrey Flanagan has covered the Royals since 1991, and for MLB.com since 2015. Follow him on Twitter at @FlannyMLB.