As far back as he can remember, Morgan Lofstrom has dreamed of playing professional baseball.
The 17-year-old from West Kelowna took a significant step towards that lifelong goal this month when he was selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the 20th round (615th overall) of the Major League Baseball draft.
Lofstrom, a catcher and pitcher with the B.C. Premier Baseball League’s Okanagan Athletics, heard the news from his teammates during a doubleheader on June 8 at Elks Stadium in Kelowna.
“We were between games when some of the guys came over and told me, it was exciting and pretty shocking,” said Lofstrom. “I was hoping to go in the draft, somewhere between the 20th and 40th rounds, so to go in the 20th was surprising and pretty nice.”
Last season, Lofstrom was a key component in the Okanagan Athletics’ run to their first ever BCPBL title.
Already on the radar of pro scouts, Lofstrom really began garnering attention after joining Canada’s national junior program last fall.
This spring, Lofstrom earned positive reviews playing with Team Canada in both Florida and in the Dominican Republic.
At the end of June, he’ll rejoin the national junior squad in Toronto, before heading to the Boston area for a series of exhibition games. Then in mid-August, the Mt. Boucherie grad hopes to be on Canada’s roster for the pre-world tournament in Australia, followed by the World Junior Baseball Championship beginning Aug. 30 in Taiwan.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Lofstrom has hit close to .300 for much of his stay with the Canadian squad and has impressed national team head coach Greg Hamilton with his work behind the plate, on the mound and with the bat.
“Morgan has a good physical frame that projects to fill out and get stronger,” said Hamilton.
“He has a real easy arm with carry. He has good hands to hit and has the necessary tools to catch.”
Getting drafted by the Reds leaves Lofstrom with a decision to make over the next couple of weeks—whether to sign a pro contract with Cincinnati or pursue a scholarship offer from San Jacinto College in Texas.
If Lofstrom opts for the pro route, he would report to the Reds’ instructional league team in mid-September in Goodyear, Arizona.
Choosing the Reds would also come with a significant signing bonus.
“I’m weighing my options right now, but I’ll likely sign with (the Reds),” said Lofstrom, whose family moved to West Kelowna from Nelson when he was in Grade 6. “It’s been a dream of mine for a long time to play pro ball, but I wasn’t expecting to be this close to it this soon. I’m excited for the opportunity and I feel like I want to get started.”
Because Lofstrom has shown promise both as a catcher and a pitcher, Greg Hamilton said his versatility makes him an attractive prospect for any pro team.
“The fact that he could one day become a pitcher if things don’t work out behind the plate (works in his favour),” said Hamilton. “Having said this, I believe that he has the necessary tools to catch.”
As for potentially being on the cusp of beginning a pro career, Lofstrom considers himself fortunate.
“I feel like I’ve worked hard, but I’ve also played well in front of the right people,” said Lofstrom, who credits Okanagan A’s coach Evan Bailey for helping to prepare him for the next step.
“The stars have lined up for me and I’m grateful for that.”
Lofstrom will play with the A’s this weekend in Kelowna, before heading to Toronto June 29 to rejoin the Canadian junior program.