2024 MLB Draft Deep Dive: Nick Krutz, 1B, Wake Forrest  

The 2024 MLB draft is set for Sunday, July 14, 2024, in Arlington Texas as part of the 2024 MLB All-Star Weekend festivities. The Phillies will pick number 27 in the 1st round. Currently, the Phillies have 17 picks in the 2024 draft. The baseball people here at EOP will keep you updated on the top prospects in this year’s draft. This week we look at our projected number two player (pick owned by the Cincinnati Reds) in the 2024 MLB Draft. Nick Krutz,1B, Wake Forrest.   

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One of the most well-rounded offensive players in the 2024 class, Kurtz is a towering, 6-foot-5, lefthanded-hitting first baseman who has been a lethal middle-of-the-order presence in Wake Forest’s lineup since the day he stepped on campus.

He went from 15 home runs as a freshman to 24 in his sophomore season and is a career .345/.499/.708 hitter with the Demon Deacons, while posting a 16.8% strikeout rate and 21.2% walk rate. Kurtz has long levers, but pairs advanced bat-to-ball skills with a surprisingly compact swing and a savvy batting eye.

 His swing decisions lead to infrequent chases out of the zone, though the length of his levers and his bat speed allow him to get the barrel to all parts of the zone—making him tough to beat. He has plus raw power and has homered to all fields throughout his college career, and in the 2023 season he posted a strong 108.9-mph 90th percentile exit velocity.

Kurtz is a strong defender at first base and has a chance for plus defensive upside at the position, thanks to impressive body control and better athleticism than is typical for the position. He is an average runner underway and because of that teams might be inclined to try him in a corner outfield position at the next level.

Kurtz may have less opportunity to improve his reputation as a defender than Wetherholt since he’s expected to continue playing first base for Wake, where he is perhaps one of the best defenders in the nation. Elite first-base defense doesn’t move the needle as much as elite defense further up the defensive spectrum, so the biggest thing for Kurtz will be to simply continue mashing. 

He should be the central offensive figure at Wake Forest this spring now that Brock Wilken has moved to pro ball, and if he performs around his career average—.345/.499/.708 with 20 or more homers—he should have a good chance to become the highest drafted hitter in program history. The track record of top-of-the-draft college first basemen is dicey, so any chance to showcase defensive versatility and athleticism in the outfield will only embolden teams that are afraid to miss the position.

So what is Kurtz kryptonite? Where is the hole in his game? Well, this is a tough one, because there isn’t a “hole” per se. So, instead, let’s just discuss what he’s not the best at. So hitting? He’s the best. Defense at first? He’s the best. Speed on the base paths? Now we’re talking. He’s not the fastest on the field. Will he steal you a bag or two? Sure. Are the announcers going to be screaming at him to unhitch the trailer when he trying to score from first on a gapper? No, they’re not, he’ll be able to bring it home with ease. But will he be leading the league, or even in the top 50 in terms of stolen bases? No, he will not. So, there’s strike one. He’s not the fastest on the field.

Is there anything else that’s going to make it even remotely possible that Kurtz doesn’t go in the first round to, say, the Pittsburgh Pirates would love a left-handed power hitter at first? Oh, yeah, his arm is not the best on the field. But it’s not even close to the worst, so, weakness, once again is a bit of a stretch.

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Matt Bednarczyk
Matt Bednarczyk

Matt Bednarczyk is your host of Talking Philly Sports With Matty B. He is a proud retired US Army Sergeant First Class, he is also a combat veteran with over 80 months served in Afganistan, and Iraq . Huge Hockey Fan. Matt is a lifelong 4 for 4 Philly sports fan. Born and raised on the Mayfair and Tacony neighborhood lines of Northeast Philly. He brings over 40 years of Philadelphia Sports passion and provides a realistic look at our Major Sports Teams and the most passionate sports fans on the planet. Look for his show live on Edge of Philly Sports.