Jack O'Loughlin Whitecaps’ Jack O’Loughlin pitches to a Lugnuts batter in the first inning on Tuesday, April 11, 2023, at Jackson Field in Lansing. 230411 Lugnuts Whitecaps Baseball 076a

Surreal and breathtaking were a couple of the words Jack O’Loughlin described the feeling of being named Team Australia’s starter in the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

The stars had aligned for him.

There’s a sense of pride that comes from representing your country and being just one of a few. That honor will continue into the 2024 season.

O’Loughlin looks to be the 38th Australian-born player to play in MLB as he heads to camp with the Oakland A’s.

“I’m very excited, a little bit even nervous, but also excited to see something new — go to Arizona and see what the other spring training is like as well,” O’Loughlin told The Comeback.

A new organization, a new spring training, a new outlook. The ingredients whip up a new set of emotions heading into the next chapter of his career. O’Loughlin admitted there were some nerves there.

“It’s obviously my first time going to an MLB spring training,” he said. “It’s also that time of the year where you get to that point where it’s all new. I’ve been to spring training’s before, but it’s a new organization, it’s a new place. The comfortability with being familiar with what you’re walking into, but at the same time, exciting to go explore new pathways and see what it’s like at another organization.”

The 23-year-old streamlined his way through the Detroit Tigers’ organization in 2023 becoming the only pitcher to be promoted two levels (High-A to Triple-A).

When he heard about the promotion, he was slightly confused. He was ready to join Double-A Erie, but the name of Anthony Iapoce was uttered. The Triple-A manager. He joked he wasn’t sure how it happened.

“I’m not 100 percent sure,” O’Loughlin said. “I had all my pitches working.”

Across both teams last season, he boasted a 3.99 ERA and a 1.460 WHIP with 118 strikeouts in 124 innings.

As far as his pitches go, in addition to his fastball, he throws a slider, changeup and curveball.

His curve is the pitch he’s always had. It’s loopy with some late bite to it. O’Loughlin describes it as you would a loyal friend. It’s been there for him and dependable over the years.

“I’ve been throwing it since I was a little kid,” O’Loughlin said. “It’s one of the only pitches that I’ve had since I actually came into professional baseball.”

Heading into his first big-league spring training, one of his goals is to improve his walk rate.

“No one likes walking people,” he laughed. “But when I try to break it down a little bit so that it doesn’t affect me too much on whether or not it was actually quality pitches throughout the at-bat. Which I think is the big thing for a lot of pitchers. That, as long as they were quality pitches, you can live with it. You can move on.”

Talking to O’Loughlin for the 20-minutes I did, you get a calm sense about him. The scouting reports confirmed that, but it’s the same mentality and approach he’s had from the beginning.

The way O’Loughlin carried himself on the mound accounted for the maturity that came at such an early age. At just 15, a former coach of his complimented his composure.

“I would say that definitely came from my dad,” O’Loughlin said. “My dad played a lot of amateur baseball and softball, and growing up, it was just one of those things that, everyone tells you you should be humble and be composed, and when you’re out there pitching just don’t show emotion. And I guess it’s just one thing that over the years, that now that I’ve been pitching for so long, that I’ve become good at. I’ve just learned how to handle everything on the mound a little bit.”

It was something that came easy for O’Loughlin — being able to avoid getting worked up or showing too much emotion. That helped streamline his process.

O’Loughlin has an exquisite move to first, but he can’t quite put into words what contributes to it.


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“I guess it’s just something I’ve worked on a little bit, but I think it comes from, like we talked about before, being that calm, I can sell it well,” O’Loughlin said.

His preparation will remain the same as it typically does. There’s more incentive with the MLB camp invite, of course. There’s more motivation.

“That’s where I think it changes,” he said. “It gets you out of bed every day, go to the gym, train, throw your bullpen, work on stuff, but it might be just that little bit extra motivation that allows you to push yourself a little bit more.”

And if he is the 38th Aussie to play in the bigs?

“That would be incredible,” he said. “It would be the long time, dream come true.”

About Jessica Kleinschmidt

Jess is a baseball fan with Reno, Nev. roots residing in the Bay Area. She is the host of "Short and to the Point" and is also a broadcaster with the Oakland A's Radio Network. She previously worked for MLB.com and NBC Sports Bay Area.