It is that time of the year again! MLB Pipeline is starting to put out their top prospect lists, which includes their positional rankings. The Pittsburgh Pirates will have plenty of prospects from their minor league clubs making appearances on these lists.
So far, the Pittsburgh Pirates have had Tyler Glasnow rated as the number two overall right-handed pitcher, Mitch Keller received an honorable mention, Josh Bell rated as the number two overall first base prospect, and Ke’Bryan Hayes rated as the number nine overall third baseman. The Pittsburgh Pirates had no prospects on the top ten catcher or second baseman lists. Today MLB Pipeline released their Top Ten Shortstops. Here is the full list:
Gleyber Torres, NYY
Dansby Swanson, ATL
Amed Rosario, NYM
J.P. Crawford, PHI
Brendan Rodgers, COL
Willy Adames, TB
Kevin Maitan, ATL
Jorge Mateo, NYY
Nick Gordon, MIN
Franklin Barreto, OAK
As one can see, the Pittsburgh Pirates are not represented on this list. Many expected 2015 first round pick Kevin Newman to make the list. In a way he did, he received the honorable mention as the “next up” prospect. Here is what Mike Rosenbaum of MLB Pipeline had to say on Newman:
"Few hitters in the 2015 Draft class were more accomplished than Kevin Newman, who, after winning back-to-back Cape Cod League batting titles and then hitting .370 as a junior at Arizona, became the 19th overall pick in June. He continued to rake while reaching Double-A in his first full season, showing the offensive tools to develop into a top-of-the-order hitter while also holding his own at shortstop.More from Rum BunterPittsburgh Pirates Prospect Stockwatch: Outfielder Tres GonzalezPittsburgh Pirates Podcast: Rum Bunter Radio Talks Winter Meetings FalloutPittsburgh Pirates: Potential Leadoff Hitters in 2023Pittsburgh Pirates: The Rotation is not being ImprovedPittsburgh Pirates Make Vince Velasquez Signing Official"
This is all great, but somewhat confusing. Newman ranked as MLB Pipeline’s number 51 overall prospect on the midseason updated list. This was after he posted a robust slash line of .368/.428/.494 in 41 games at High-A. Those impressive numbers were backed up by his 6.3 percent strikeout rate, and a strong WRC+ of 171. He then was moved to Double-A, where he saw his numbers regress, but still, he put up strong numbers for being his first full season of professional ball. At Double-A, Newman posted a solid slash line of .288/.361/.378. While his power numbers did not translate to Double-A, he still put up a strong OBP, and only struck out 9.0 percent of the time while walking 9.7 percent of the time. Plus, a majority of the scouts, who have seen Newman play, believe he will be an average to an above-average defender at shortstop.
Stick at Short?
In general, most scouts were very high on Newman at the end of last year, so it is weird to see so many players ranked ahead of him. Shortstop prospects like Brendan Rogers, Jorge Mateo, and Franklin Barreto are projected to move from shortstop once they reach the majors. As of now, Newman looks to be the future shortstop of the Pittsburgh Pirates. How are players who are projected to not play shortstop ranked ahead of him?
Look at Others Numbers’
Also, when looking at the numbers, Newman outperformed some of these players last season. For instance, Jorge Mateo, who competed in the same league as Newman at High-A, slashed a low .254/.306/.379 with a 21.3% strikeout rate. Also, as of now, Mateo will likely be shifting to second base as MLB Pipeline points out that “some question whether he can stick at shortstop in the long run.”
Nick Gordon who is likely to stick at short also played in High-A last year. He posted a slash line of .291/.335/.386. Although these are solid numbers, they still are not even close to that of Newmans. So what gives? It is more or less the fact that Newman has nothing that stands out. He projects to be a high .200s hitters, with a mid .300s OBP and gap power. The other players on this list all are considered toolsy with a ton of upside. They get the higher rankings because they have the ceiling to turn into stars, while some view Newman’s ceiling as just a really good all-around player.
Will Always be Undervalued
To an extent, Newman will likely be undervalued his whole career. Players like Rodgers and Barreto will have 25 home run potential, while Gordon and Mateo will have extreme athleticism and be fun to watch. With all that being said, if Kevin Newman turns into the player that he is projecting to be, he will be everything the Pittsburgh Pirates want in their hitters. He is patient, has a great eye, and has the ability to get on base. Kevin Newman will still be a top 100 prospect entering the season, and will likely start the year in Double-A. If he continues to hit around .300, he likely will get bumped up to Triple-A for a bulk of the season. Is it dissapointing to see Newman not ranked on this list? Yes. Furthermore, should fans be worried about it in terms of his stock? No.
Also, Cole Tucker looks to rebound in 2017 and make a push for this list in entering 2018.
Finally, comment below!