KANSAS CITY — The Royals may have found their next Whit Merrifield.
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.
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.
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.
It is believed Loftin could stick at shortstop, but the Royals love players with versatility, suggesting that he could turn into another super-utility man such as Merrifield.
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.