Baylor Shortstop Nick Loftin Joins The Baseball America College Podcast
This week on the Baseball America College Podcast, Baylor shortstop Nick Loftin joins Teddy Cahill and Joe Healy to talk about playing for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and to look ahead to the Bears’ 2020 season.
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Loftin has been a mainstay in Baylor’s lineup the last two seasons, earning Freshman All-America honors in 2018 and again playing a key role for the Bears in 2019. For his career, he’s a .315/.375/.473 hitter and he is the 23rd-ranked player on the Top 100 College Draft Prospects list for the 2020 draft.
For Loftin, however, winning comes first. He’s done a lot of that at Baylor, winning the Big 12 Tournament in 2018 and last year finishing second in the standings, just behind Texas Tech.
Loftin said the Bears this fall are again focused on winning.
“We came in this fall with a winning mentality,” he said. “That’s how we built our culture here at Baylor. Being able to do the little things right and do whatever it takes to win. That’s what helped us in the past with success.
“The vibe that we get in the locker room that everything we do on the field with intent. The intensity’s high, the effort is there, and we just focus on winning every single day, whether that’s on the field in practice or in a game.”
Loftin has been hard at work improving his game this fall, especially focusing on improving his internal clock on defense and control of the strike zone.
“The past two years something I’ve been working on is my internal clock on defense, particularly,” he said. “Understanding the batters that are at the plate, knowing how much time I have, getting myself into good positions to make plays, knowing who are the guys that run really fast down the line and who I can take my time with.
“From an offensive standpoint it’s been not swinging at pitcher’s pitches in early counts. I tend to get myself out a lot on pitcher’s pitches that aren’t necessarily a high-percentage hit rate for me. So being able to work myself into deep counts and getting myself into position to have success at the plate. Being patient and waiting for the right pitch to do damage with.”
Loftin has been a mainstay in Baylor’s lineup, playing 108 games over his first two seasons. He said his hard work in high school helped him get ready to immediately play in college.
“I guess it would be my willingness to win, my preparation,” he said. “I prepared really well growing up in high school and then once I got to college, in the fall, I really prepared myself. You get into college and you don’t really want to sit on the bench. You want to do everything you can to play and start, do whatever it takes to help the team win. I was able to prepare really well and when you prepare you have confidence and you get put into a situation where you need to step up, you tend to do that when you’re prepared. It’s more of a preparation thing that gave me confidence in certain situations. When I got the call, I got to step up and do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
Loftin’s play helped him earn a spot with Team USA last summer, an experience he loved. He said even thinking about playing with the national team gave him goosebumps.
Loftin hit .292/.380/.583 for Team USA but was a not a starter for the team with Arizona State’s Alika Williams manning shortstop. He still played in 11 games, starting six, but his secondary role gave him a chance to see the game from a different vantage point.
“Once you get to play with a team of that caliber, it tends to make you better regardless of what you do. Just being around arguably the best of the best in college baseball, you tend to pick up on things they learned. You pick their brain. Me not being the everyday shortstop for Team USA, I was able to see baseball from a different perspective, a different view. I was able to watch Alika (Williams) and how he goes about his business and how he goes about perfecting his craft. Seeing (Justin) Foscue at second base, Luke Waddell at third base, how they go about doing their business.
“You start picking up little things that they do, and you go, ‘Yeah, I can incorporate that in my game.’ So, they pick up on little things and you pick up on little things that they do. Just being around each other made us better, tremendously.”