Blue Springs High School graduate Jeremy Lufft didn’t receive the accolades that his brother Jake received this season when he was in high school.
Jake Lufft, the talented pitcher and infielder has been making a name for himself with the Blue Springs Wildcats, earning a first-team, all-state honors and MVP honors during the Junior Sunbelt Classic last month.
While Jeremy might not have accomplished the high school accolades, he’s making a name for himself with the Rockhurst University and North Kansas City Apartment Giants Ban Johnson League baseball teams.
The college senior has now been a three-time Ban Johnson League all-star and is a starting third baseman for Rockhurst.
For the Giants, Lufft has been one of the best hitters in the league, ranking in the top 10 in most offensive categories.
Going into this week, Jeremy has 33 hits while batting .465 with 17 RBIs, four home runs and a 1.289 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage).
“I am extremely happy with my season so far,” Lufft said. “I am very surprised and very happy.”
Lufft credits his success to constantly taking swings in the batting cages during the three to four weeks off he had between the college and Ban Johnson baseball seasons.
“I was in the cage pretty much every day,” said Jeremy, who hit .261 with four home runs, 20 RBIs during his junior season at Rockhurst. “I would just ask my roommate, ‘Hey, you want to go hit?’ And he said, ‘Sure.’”
Before he went to Rockhurst, the senior considered himself a dead-pull hitter. He wasn’t concerned with hitting it to the opposite field. Now, he’s hitting it to all fields and because of that, has been finding more success at the plate.
“I just hit a home run to the opposite field the other night,” said Lufft, a right-handed batter. “Most of my power was to right-center before college. Now that I am a little bit bigger and a little bit stronger, most of my power is to left-center.”
All it took was some minor adjustments to his swing.
“I used to be pretty open in my swing, but I closed my front foot up a little bit,” Lufft said. “Then my hands got faster and that helped me hit to left and right field.”
For Giants manager Dan Stacks, the numbers the Blue Springs grad has been putting up haven’t been a surprise. He also praised Lufft’s defense in addition to his hitting.
“We knew what we had in him and he’s really coming into his own right now,” Stacks said. “He plays a heck of a shortstop for us and defensively, he’s all over the field. When a ball is hit in his direction, he makes the play 99 times out of 100.
“He’s a lot more patient at the plate (than he was his freshman year with the team). When he first came on, he was swinging at the first pitch and trying to hit it over the fence. Now, he’s much more patient and hitting his pitch.”
Although Lufft has been hitting well at the college level, adjusting to the competition from high school didn’t come easy. He had to deal with other team’s scouting him and knowing what his weaknesses were at the plate.
“I used to struggle hitting the off-speed pitch,” he said. “Then Carl Blando, who was a former scout for the Royals, came. He would come to our practices at Rockhurst and he helped me with that. He worked with me to start taking the ball to the right side. Now, I am starting to get the hang of that.”
Now, he’s aiming for bigger things his senior year at Rockhurst, an NCAA Division II program in Kansas City. He’s hoping to increase all of his stats and wants to make the Great Lakes Valley all-conference team.
Those are goals he said he can accomplish. And he may even place another wager against his brother Jake on who can put up better stats. Jake will be a senior at Blue Springs High School this fall.
“We always have season bets,” Jeremy said. “This spring, we had a bet on who could hit the most home runs during the season. He won. I had four and he had nine. I told him, ‘The pitching (in college) is a lot different, Jake. We usually just bet 10 dollars – nothing too much.”
For now, he’s concentrating on helping his summer baseball team win a Ban Johnson League championship. Stacks said he thinks Lufft might even be able to accomplish more than that.
“I would probably put Jeremy as one of the top players in the Ban Johnson League right now,” Stacks said. ”There’s definitely a chance (that Jeremy could win league MVP).”