Welcome back to our Kings of Kauffman offseason series analyzing the 2023 performance of various KC Royals players. Up today is utility man Nick Loftin.
Nick Loftin, a player who may someday become the kind of versatile star Whit Merrifield was for the Royals before they traded him away last year, spent most of this season playing at Triple-A Omaha and waiting for his first shot at the major leagues. His case for promotion was strong — as August ended, he was hitting a solid .270 with 14 home runs, 56 RBIs, and a .344 OBP in 82 games.
Those numbers probably would have been better had Loftin not spent almost a month-and-a-half on the Injured List, but they were good enough for the Royals, who on Sept. 1 — just in time for that night's game against Boston at Kauffman Stadium — made him one of their final month roster expansion call-ups.
Loftin played immediately. Manager Matt Quatraro made him the Royals' designated hitter for the evening; just a few hours later, Loftin and his teammates had made the night one for the rookie utility man to remember. Batting eighth in Quatraro's order, Loftin doubled in a run, singled, walked, and finished his big league debut, which Kansas City won 13-2, 2-for-3.
He wasn't done. Not by a long shot.
Nick Loftin had a hot September for the KC Royals
Quatraro gave Loftin the next game off, but he played the following four games and, going 4-for-12 with another pair of doubles and two more RBIs, collected at least a hit in all but one. He had five multi-hit games the rest of the way and, after playing his final game of the season Sept. 29, finished with a .323/.368/.435 line and five doubles, a triple, 10 RBIs and a couple of steals in 19 games.
He also demonstrated his versatility by playing first, second and third bases, and didn't make an error in 68 chances.
What grade does Nick Loftin deserve for his first exposure to the majors?
It's hard to find anything to criticize about Loftin's 2023 big league play. Only three years removed from the 2020 amateur draft — Kansas City landed him with the 32nd overall pick — he hit well, fielded well, and fit well.
We'll give him an A.
Loftin didn't play enough to lose his rookie status and could be a solid Rookie of the Year candidate next season.