Future Friday: Kevin Newman


This season I will be posting articles every Friday that will be titled ‘Future Friday.’  These articles will be about a specific prospect who is having a successful season. This can range from top prospects to lower level guys who are working their way up the prospect ranks. I will outline a bio about them, what they have done in their careers, how they are doing this year, and give some insight on what I think their future will hold.  

Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /

For the second installment of the “Future Friday” series I will be covering Kevin Newman.  Newman is a 6’1″ and 180 lbs shortstop.  He attended Poway High School in California, putting up strong all conference numbers as a prep player, Newman received a scholarship to play at the University of Arizona.  The Wildcats have consistently produced high-end prospects and once again have in Newman.  The shortstop started as a freshmen for the Wildcats and put up a strong .336 batting average which was good for 11th best in the Pac-12.  He was named to the Freshman All-American team and was the only freshman named to the All-Pac 12 team.  He also put up a solid OPS of .790 in 2013.  To follow-up his strong freshman performance, Newman became the first freshman to win the batting title while playing in the Cape Cod Summer League by hitting .375.  During his second year at Arizona he regressed.  He still hit .304 with a strong OBP of .362.  Even with his numbers regressing some, he still managed to be named to the All-Pac 12 team and the All-Defensive Pac-12 team.  In the summer of 2014, he once again played in the CCL, and once again had a strong summer showing.  He became the first player ever in the CCL to win consecutive batting titles in the league.  He accomplished this feat by hitting .380.  Newman, who was not drafted out of high school, was now putting himself on the 2015 draft map.  With that being said, he did not disappoint his junior year.  Newman raised his draft stock even more by batting a strong .370 with an OBP of .426 and an OPS of .915.  With this he was named to All-Pac 12 team for the 3rd straight year.  

Going into the draft there was mixed reviews about Newman.  Many scouts viewed him as a line-drive hitter, with little power (2 homers in 3 years at Arizona), but the ability to get on base.   There was also the belief that he could stick at shortstop, but some envisioned him moving to 3rd or 2nd.  Then there is Keith Law.  Law, who is ESPN’s prospect insider, projected Newman as a top 10 talent in the draft.  He believed he had the tools to be an everyday shortstop and had the frame to develop into a very good hitter.  With most mocks having Newman going in the 25-30 range, the Pirates agreed with Law and made him their 1st overall selection at #19 in the first round.  The fan reaction was not very supportive.  I had mixed feelings on the pick at the time.  In a way I thought it was a strong pick, mainly because I saw that some scouts had positive reviews on him and the Pirates were taking a player at a premium position.  However, one could argue there was more attractive players on the board, like former Pirates draft pick Walker Buehler, Kyle Funkhouser, and Ashe Russell.  Newman signed for 2.175 million dollars which was below the slot value of 2.273 million.  

The spotlighted prospect did not help his reputation his first action in pro ball last year.  With a good portion of the fan-base already feeling that Newman was not a quality pick for the Pirates, he came out and struggled at Short-A ball. He played 38 games for the West Virginia Black Bears, and he batted just .226 with an OPS of .620. Even with his struggles the Bucs promoted him to Low-A West Virginia Power to finish the year.  With this promotion he started to get back on track as a the talented hitter he was believed to be.  In 23 games with the Power, he batted .306 with a .367 OBP and a .743 OPS.  Those numbers were more of what we were hoping to see from the first round pick.  The interesting point here is that just after 23 games at Low-A, the Pirates are aggressively starting Newman at High-A.  

So far this year Newman has gotten off to an incredible start.  For the Marauders, the 22 year-old is hitting an outstanding .407 with a slash-line of .459/.463/.922 (OBP/SLUG/OPS).  Now it has only been 14 games I know, but after looking at his college and Cape Cod numbers, and him being the team’s first round pick, we should expect him to hit over .300.  Last year’s slow start could be viewed as fluke as he made the transition from college life to professional baseball.  He may have just not been ready for the transition to the minor leagues.  However, the end of last season and the beginning of this one is showing that he has made the transition.  

Newman has a strong track record from being an All-Conference player in High School, to being one in college, and setting records at the most competitive summer league at Cape Cod. He is arguably the Pirates top shortstop prospect, joining 2014 first round pick Cole Tucker as the top two in the system.  I do not think Newman will ever develop into a major big league star, but he has the potential to become a quality big league player for the Pirates.  He is not going to ever hit 20+ homers or make plays from his back, but not many players do.  If Newman continues his career trend he will be a solid hitter who will bat around .290+ with good on-base skills and above average defense but nothing to flashy.  As for his power he will be a gap-to-gap type of hitter who will most likely top out at 8-10 homers a season. Although nothing sounds overly impressive about him, if he turns into a productive everyday shortstop for the Pirates, can you really complain?

Related Story: Future Friday: Brandon Waddell