INF Nick Loftin
I get excited whenever I see Nick Loftin in the Royals lineup. I am a fan and happy that the Royals promoted the utilityman to the 26-man roster before this season ended. The 32nd overall pick from the 2020 MLB Draft has proven to be valuable to the Royals, no matter where he hits or fields.
Loftin came bursting onto the scene after his September promotion, tallying the second-most hits in five games for a Royals player starting their career. Much like Paulo Orlando started his career with triples upon triples in 2015, Loftin had a penchance for reaching second base. His three doubles through his first five games also tie for the second-most in Royals history, only trailing Tim Spehr.
While Loftin has cooled off some, he is still having a very strong debut. His .420 on-base percentage through his first 14 games was the second-highest among any Royals player in the same span. His five doubles tie Vinnie Pasquantino for the team lead in that span, while Loftin ranks in the top two in hits, RBIs, batting average, and more. He has made MLB hitting look easy at times and has served Kansas City well in the batting order's bottom half.
Loftin's best calling card is his ability to play all over the field. In fact, he played four different positions in his first three games. He has multiple appearances at first, second, and third base under his belt while helping off the bench as a pinch hitter (1 hit, 1 RBI as a pinch hitter this season). He has no errors and a perfect fielding percentage at all three bases so far, showing little difficulty transitioning from one to another. Baseball Savant gives him -1 outs above average (OAA) at both first and second base while posting a positive 1 OAA at third.
The 2024 Royals already have a starter at all three of Loftin's defensive positions, assuming Pasquantino returns healthy. But they do not have a clear backup at all three. Loftin could be the next man up at any base while having value as a platoon designated hitter or pinch hitter. Loftin's bat is solid, and the glove is palatable for a spot starter. He may not be a star, but Loftin will provide valuable depth for the 2024 Royals.