Prep Baseball Report

Q&A With Iowa Commit Ben Toft

By: Pete Hamot
Area Scout, Staff Writer

OF Ben Toft (New Trier, 2025) has been a consistent winner on the Prep Baseball scouting circuit throughout his prep career, perhaps most notably this past summer when he represented Team Illinois at the Future Games. There's a lot to like with Toft, and he was identified by Shooter Hunt as a Top-50 standout at the Future Games, saying this about the Iowa commit; "...Toft’s ability to slow things down at the plate while showcasing impressive decision making abilities is something that is sure to generate plenty of interest from college programs who are looking for a player that will undoubtedly boost a recruiting class". 

Toft will surely look to help headline a talented New Trier lineup that made it all the way to State just one season ago. His aforementioned decision making, paired with his pure ability on the field, will make him a valuable asset to the Trevians as they look to repeat their playoff success in 2024.

We recently sat down with the future Hawkeye and talked through his recruiting process, as well as some other fun topics, below. 

Our Q&A

PBR: What were your expectations about the recruiting process? What were you looking for out of a college program to continue your baseball career at?

Ben: I actually did not know what to expect. I had one offer before the NCAA rules took effect back in the spring and not until it got lifted did I have a full understanding of other opportunities that were out there for me. I might have started late with building relationships with coaches from schools that I was interested in attending but it all worked out in the end. I knew I wanted to attend a college with a solid baseball program that is respected and competes at the highest level, and an academic program that is one of the best in the country. I wanted to commit to a program who will give me a chance to prove myself and have an immediate impact.

P: Did location or distance from home play a factor in your decision?

B: Not at all. I was willing to go wherever as long as it is the right school and program.

P: When did the recruiting process really start to heat up for you? Where did the school you committed to first see you play?

B: The day before August 1st, I received a call from one of my mentors advising me that I will have a busy day talking to colleges the following day. I did not expect that. I was pleasantly surprised and felt grateful that all the hard work did not go unnoticed. That was a busy day and even busier a few weeks after. I was told Iowa saw me first at a Top Tier Scout showcase which was the first of such events I attended.

P: What do you like most about the program you chose, and what were the key factors in making your decision?

B: My parents and I are very impressed with Iowa’s coaching staff. They certainly know what they are doing. They were organized, transparent, sincere and passionate during my recruiting process. Coach Marty Sutherland kept up with me from day one, and he still does. During my visit, Coach Heller, the Head Coach, discussed how they utilize a science-backed approach in developing their players. They try to close all the boxes for a player to help him succeed. This resonated with me - I wanted all my boxes closed so I could continue to elevate my game and compete at the highest level. I want to reach and fulfill my potential. Coach Heller also talked about humility and integrity. These are values that are important to me as I navigate through life. In the end, I committed to a program who really wanted me. Iowa showed me they truly wanted me. I am grateful for the opportunity. 

P: What other schools were on your short list before you made your final decision?

B: Yale, Northwestern and Illinois.

P: Who is the best player you have faced in your state? What about them makes for a tough opponent?

B: Hank Liss who played for Evanston HS and now plays for Belmont. He is legitimately a talented guy, a formidable pitcher and a power hitter. Plus, he is a good person.

P: At what point in your career did you realize you were a college-caliber player and became serious about taking your game to the next level?

B: Well, I just had this fire in me to compete from an early age. I stay in the moment and work hard to succeed in the present. I don’t know if there was a point where I realized I was a college-caliber player. I just knew that I would want to compete beyond high school, so I worked like it. However, my mom showed a post she made on Facebook when I was in second grade. In it, she mused about my Dad’s musing of what they are going to do once college coaches start knocking on our door. I only played soccer and basketball at that age. Go figure!

P: What advice would you give to young baseball players striving to get where you are?

B: Work hard. Only compete with yourself to get better. Do not compare yourself with others. You are your own person. Know your strength (work on being consistent about it) and weakness (work on improving it). Be willing to make some sacrifices, be coachable, get good grades and stay humble.

P: What is the most memorable moment in your baseball career to this point?

B: Cooperstown during my 12U year was special. Being able to play in an almost passage of rite baseball tournament with some of my best friends, who are still my best friends today will stay with me forever. Also, playing and hitting my first home run at Roemer Park, a local community baseball park we dubbed as our mini Wrigley Field.

P: Preview your high school team's season for us. How do you feel your team will be?

B: I think we will be ranked higher this upcoming season because we placed third in the state last season. It's important that this does not get into our heads. While we lost some of our superstar seniors, we have juniors coming up who are strong hitters and pitchers and also have solid baseball IQ. In addition, some of our best varsity baseball players from last year are coming back for their senior year. We have unfinished business. We will be competitive.

P: How did the Future Games and/or the Illinois State Games affect your recruitment process? Did you receive more attention following the event(s)?

B: The Future Games absolutely catapulted me as a viable recruit.  I believe being able to play with and against some of the best in the country validated me as a legitimate prospect to many college coaches who were just starting to notice me. This might have been a pivotal event in my recruiting process that opened up several unexpected opportunities.

P: If you could steal any tool or quality from another player in the state, what would it be and who would it be from?

B: I know this is supposed to be a fun question but I honestly would not want to steal from anyone. I have always focused on my own self when it comes to competing. I work everyday to improve on what tools I have. I work to get it consistent and better. I also work on being aware of what I need to improve on. I don’t want to plateau at any point of my baseball career so I grind, get feedback and grind some more. 

P: Did Prep Baseball assist in your recruiting? Whether it be through a showcase, tournament coverage, tweets, etc? 

B: The exposure I received through Prep Baseball was a game changer. If I’m not mistaken, with the exception of two tournaments, I have only attended PBR-sponsored showcases and tournaments. The write-ups, tweets, mentions - they all helped amplify my exposure and opportunities I received. 

Related Content