The Pittsburgh Pirates have drafted Arizona shortstop Kevin Newman with the 19th overall pick, which was first reported by Nathan Rode.

Newman is a solid hitting shortstop with questions about his ability to stick at the position. He doesn’t profile as a guy who can hit for a lot of power, outside of gap power in the future. However, he has quick hands, and projects to be a great hitter, who has great plate patience. As for his defense, there are questions about whether he can stick at shortstop or play second base. He might not be a plus defender at short, but seems to have a shot at the position, and the Pirates will absolutely give him every opportunity to stick there.

This is continuing a growing trend with the Pirates. The last few years they have drafted a lot of athletic position players with great hitting tools, including strong plate patience, but questions about their defense and whether they can stick at a key position. Back in Spring Training, Pirates Assistant General Manager Greg Smith told me that they think it is easier to draft a good hitter who is athletic enough to play a key position and teach him solid defense at that position, as opposed to drafting a strong defender at a key position and teaching him how to hit.

Newman is a strong hitter, and if he can stick at short, he will be a good pick. Baseball America and MLB.com had him ranked 29th overall, while Keith Law was much higher on him, putting him at second overall in the draft, one spot ahead of first overall pick Dansby Swanson.

Kevin Newman’s Player Page

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87 COMMENTS

  1. Nothing against Kevin Newman, I just do not like this pick since it sets a logjam next year at SS in Bradenton.

  2. My only comment was the Bucs seemed to grab the identical player last year in Tucker.
    It looks like their second pick–ex-MLBer Charlie Hayes’ son–is a true 3B, with some power.

  3. Newman appears to be a Freddy Sanchez clone. This would not be a bad get or the Pirates.

    My hope was for the Pirates to land a high-ceiling LHed pitcher. That might happen, but probably not.

    • If we have one of these prep pitchers somehow fall to us in the 2nd or one of the top, tough-sign, players fall to us we could end up OK bc Newman and Hayes should both be pretty signable.

  4. fwiw, Ryan Zimmerman had horrible ISO numbers in college. He slugged over .500 in the minors and over .400 in MLB.

    I’ve seen mention that moving Newman’s stance so his legs are closer could unleash gap power and maybe a handful of HRs.

  5. Obviously, time will tell regarding the wisdom of this pick. But, for today, I am disappointed in this pick – almost as much as I was in regard to last year’s first round pick. Newman sounds like a good singles/doubles kind of hitter, who very likely end up at second base. We have a number of middle infielder options all through the system, with similar profiles – good hitters for average but lacking power. Where is the power hitting potential in our organization, below AA??

    This pick comes across as one made in order to under slot their first round pick, so they can draft high upside “over slot” guys later in the draft. That was the explanation last year, and then we drafted Joe, Luplow, etc. – and only Keller, Supak, and Hinsz were potential “over slot”.

    I hope I am proven wrong, but my intitial reaction to this pick is of disappointment, given who was available.

  6. Newman can hit. His bat will play in the Majors. I’ve seen a lot of him being at the University of Arizona, and I love this pick. His hands are amazing, he doesn’t chase, and the only reason he never hit for much power is because his swing is so geared for line-drives. He centers the ball a lot. He’ll draw walks, I think, as a pro as well. He only didn’t do it much in college because he saw a lot of strikes in a deep lineup, and his contact skill is so good he didn’t get much deeper into the count after he got a pitch to hit. Pitchers in the pros work more on the fringes, so he’ll be laying off more often.

    Whether or not he sticks at short, he’s a solid pick.

    • Also important:

      He’s not fast, but he’s a tremendous baserunner. Great instincts, very smart.

  7. Newman hit well in Cape Cod League but struggled both years in Pac-12. Hit .260 in conference play (30 games) this year with .304 OBA.

  8. I had never considered this pick a possibility but the more I see it, the more I like it. What have you guys heard for an ETA for him?

  9. I love this pick. Can’t have too many middle infielders. Looks like Josh Harrison who has a shot at sticking at SS to me. Nikorak, Russell, Burrows, Hooper, Everett, Austin Smith, Nolan Watson – those guys are all interchangeable to me and I really don’t care which HS pitchers they draft – they will develop their guys better than most of the other franchises develop theirs.

    My prediction for their next pick – Justin Hooper – I can see a LH Glasnow here. Also looking for Nolan Kingham in the 4th round. 🙂

    • I would like Hooper or Nikorak. And it would be great if Funkhouser/Matuella fall too. Save some money on Newman and go big the rest of the way.

  10. This website gives people room to complain just so they can, well….complain. if multiple outlets projected him top 5 and Keith Law thought he was #2….how can some of you complain that he’s not good or is merely a salary move?

    • Not complaining about a salary cap move with great picks on the board. The guys on MLB said it really matters notot where they are picked, just picked.

  11. I think at this point, the Pirates brass has done enough to earn our trust. I’m gonna be optimistic about what they’re doing.

      • I know prospects are never guaranteed and trading them just for the sake of trading them because you have numbers doesn’t always make sense, but Hanson, Moroff, Frazier, Weiss, Jones, Reyes, Tucker, and now Newman for 2B and SS (not to mention who might be waiting on the short season teams) seems like an over abundance of options

        • That is if all three come to a level of consistency that we hope and has largely been unproven so far. I’m not doubting but I’m just saying, be patient. Let’s see what he does after one season in the minors first. He is not going straight to the majors.

        • Crappy depth at that point, and Mercer isnt without his lapses on offense. Not that i fear he will hit .200 an entire year, but if you roll with those 3 and Jordy hits .210 for an entire month, you have to go get a FA that isnt just a bench player to play the bench.

    • based on the drafting of a young shortstop? Uh—- no. your timing is about 4 years off for those things to have any connection. This kid wouldn’t see a major league field until 2019 even if he had a rocket up his ass

  12. No problem with the pick. Sounds like a good leadoff or #2 hitter that can maybe move to 2b of walker is gone after next year.

    • No speed…explain how he can hit #1. Maybe they drafted him bc he can fly through the minors and they trade Hanson.

      • His speed is average, but he is an exceptional baserunner. Speed is great in the leadoff spot (which I think Polanco will be nailing down soon anyway), but a guy who can handle the bat and is smart on the bases is also pretty darned useful somewhere in the top of the lineup.

    • I thought Hanson would be playing second base when Walker moves on or changes positions….

  13. After last years draft, why doesn’t this surprise me. Nikorak was there for the taking and we passed on him. As someone else said, looks like a salary cap move.

    • We don’t F’ing need another righty starter, we do need quality infielders. Newman provides more value, could there have been a better pick? sure, but I think you can get him slightly below slot, and maybe waste a pick on someone later who is thought to be unsignable. This is a depth draft, the difference between 30-60 is almost zero, with almost none of the experts on the same page as far as whom is actually better. Noones right, noone’s wrong, it’s all preference

      • You are right. We need a non power hitting SS prospect. How silly of me. And has anyone ever tallied up the times signing a late round pick for over-slot has given us a whole lot versus how many times it has blown up in our face?

        Personally, I rather take my chances up front rather then down below. But thats what makes this all fun!! Different viewpoints and thoughts!

        • I didn’t look it up, but I think the Cardinals rank at the bottom for hr’s and still at the top for hitting and putting BALLS IN PLAY. The latter being very important.

        • I’m sorry- because there are so many power hitting shortstops in existence in any country/league/age that we are definitely missing out on one. This just in, shortstop is not a power hitting position. Throw away the 1990’s where all these roided up shortstops like AROD and miguel tejada ruled the league, and come back to real baseball. This is it. I’m not saying all these picks were fantastic, don’t get me wrong, but Hayes is a very very good pick, and we needed another shortstop option sooner than we were going to get otherwise, so they are throwing picks at it and seeing what sticks. Worst case scenario we have 5 2nd baseman to deal in the next few years lol….. This year we did pick to increase quality organizational position depth early, and will go to upside later. Like it or not.

        • So power is more important than being one of the better hitters at his position? Its not 1990 anymore, power isnt the end all be all. SS arent hitting for a ton of power, a guy who fields it decently and hits for high average is worth a ton. Lord, its like anyone who doesnt hit for power (no matter how advanced his hit tool is) is crap.

    • I agree except they are reporting Cameron wants $5 mil to sign, Pirates don’t have that to spend. Someone like the Astros can afford that

            • You can have personal opinions but when experts have him ranked higher…how can you argue that?

                  • Oh, and based on your process for determining who is “better”…I assume you think the Pirates were ridiculous for passing on Cameron since he was rated higher on aggregate.

                    • Not if someone is almost unsignable in this day’s MLB amateur draft. 5 mil for one player and you are looking at an extremely small draft class. You continue to go back to Tucker. What does Tucker have to do with this situation? You are comparing TWO players…of those 2, the Pirates pick the one who everyone across the board seems to like better. You talk about quick hands and defense…they talk about that extensively when talking about Newman. You can like another player, but you can also just admit you PREFER a player for whatever reason…but to act as if he’s head and shoulders above everyone else…particularly Newman just doesn’t stick.

                      And if you want to go back to Tucker…it was not a secret throughout the baseball world now that it was becoming widely known that Tucker would not have made it through to the Pirates in their compensation pick if they had passed on him in the first round….and he seems to be adjusting and playing just fine 4 yrs younger then the avg age right now in WV, so obviously the Pirates have a pretty decent handle on things

                    • You go to the experts…I am asking how these experts have done previously. Tucker as an example.

                      And I never talked about quick hands and defensively there is almost noone, or at least few, who think he can stick at SS whereas almost universally Martin is graded as a plus-defender. Newman is rated as fringe to average. He has no speed, is old for the class, hasn’t hit in conference, and projects as a 2b.

                      You mean a guy a year and a half younger with a plus glove, plus speed, and an up-and-coming bat doesnt profile as a singles hitting 2B? Newman has a higher floor, but lower ceiling. I DON’T want Martin, nor did I want him. I just am pointing out Newman really wasn’t even necessarily the best SS let alone the best position player on the board when we picked.

                    • Well actually one of the leading men who scouts and reports on this for a living, Keith Law, thinks he will become a very good above avg everyday SS in the ML…and I will gladly take that in the system. Of course he could be wrong…but Law has a pretty decent feel and I’ll always look at his reports as solid info…whether it pans or not…he does a solid job

                    • And Kiley McDaniels thinks he’s average or below, along with plenty others. The concensus (not the outlier) is that he’s likely a 2b not a SS.

                    • His 5m was also higher, and the Pirates wern’t the only teams that passed on a potenial #5 pick.

              • And Martin was 2nd to him last year and has plus speed and plus defense (with his Cape Cod manager saying he’s better defensively than Nick Ahmed, who by the way is pretty damn good!)

            • Newman’s bat is way more advanced that Martin. So far Martin has a glove…some speed, Newman has the glove, speed, 22out of 25 steals, and better bat and plate presences.

  14. Listening to the MLB draft preview at 6 pm and Jim Bowden was talking this guy up, moving him into his top 5 prospects. Dan Duquette had him in top 25.

    • I’m more excited that Law had him high. That Bowden is high on him has me worried. I don’t know why ESPN gives him editorial space.

      But anyway, we’ve collected pitchers and catchers. The OF is set for awhile. Why not collect middle infielders? Too bad this kid doesn’t profile for power as we could still use a 3b.

        • If that is the case, we really made a bad first round pick last year – because I don’t see Tucker hitting enough to play third base.

          • More likely one of them would eventually move to second. Prospect shortstops are great trade chips though….2 prep shortstops, chances are that one of them doesn’t make it, so it makes sense to draft two of them. Increases the chances that you’ve solved shortstop through 2025 one way or the other.

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