Pittsburgh Pirates: It is Time to Call Up Kevin Newman

(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images)
(Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images) /

One of the Pittsburgh Pirates top prospects is shortstop Kevin Newman.  He is making a real push to be called up from Triple-A.

At the beginning of the year, many fans were not overly optimistic about the Pittsburgh Pirates chances of competing.  However, there was one area that many believed would be a strong suit and it was the lineup.  The lineup looked solid, especially if Francisco Cervelli and Gregory Polanco could stay healthy.  The one true weak point of the lineup was Jordy Mercer at shortstop.

Jordy Mercer has served as the Pittsburgh Pirates everyday shortstop since taking over the job in 2013.  He has never brought high upside to the plate.  However, he has provided above average production against left-handed pitching.  Furthermore, he played consistent defense and was not considered an easy out by any means against righties.  Still, one could expect to see him batting seventh or eighth every day.

For his career, Jordy Mercer has posted a .293/.360/.453 slash line against left-handed pitching.  If this was his total career slash line we would be talking about a top five shortstop in baseball.  However, he does not come close to replicating those numbers against right-handed pitching, where he has batted .245/.303/.364. Unfortunately for Jordy and the Pittsburgh Pirates, the league is made up of predominantly right-handed pitching.  This year he has not done much against either righties or lefties, batting .248 against righties and .256 against lefties.  Meanwhile, it is the last year of his contract.  Is it time to move on from Jordy Mercer?

Replace Mercer with Newman

In 2014 and 2015 the Pittsburgh Pirates invested their two first round picks on shortstops.  Cole Tucker, who they drafted in 2014, is only in Double-A.  However, Kevin Newman was the team’s 2015 first round pick and he is currently tearing up Triple-A. On the year he is batting .316/.353/.395 with only 22 strikeouts in 44 games.  Also, he has only made one error at shortstop this season.  All around, Kevin Newman is having the type of season one would expect from a former first-round pick.

The one downside to Newman’s game is his lack of power.  He only has one home run that goes along with a slugging of .395.  His wRC+ does suggest that he does have some power and that can be seen by his 11 doubles this year.  Still, he will never develop into anything more than a 5-10 home run guy.  He does make up for his lack of power with speed, as he has swiped nine bases this year already.  Also, he has shown the ability to make consistent contact at the plate only striking out in 11 percent of his at-bats.

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When will this happen?

So what needs to happen for him to get called up?  First off, the Pittsburgh Pirates need to continue and be aggressive with the better and younger talent.  For what seems to be the first time in Neal Huntington’s tenure as a General Manager, the Bucs have called up top prospects prior to June.  We saw this when they brought up both Nick Kingham and Austin Meadows.  Of course now with mid-June not so far away, the team may be better served to just wait.  The issue with that is the team is starting to flounder.  They have won two of their last 11 games and could use another upside hitter to hopefully get the offense back on track.  Kevin Newman represents way more upside than Jordy Mercer at this point, and it is time to make the switch before it is too late.