by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
With shortstop Jordy Mercer hitting the DL with a calf strain the Pirates have decided to give 2015 first round pick Kevin Newman his first taste of the Majors. Newman has shown a lot of promise at Triple-A this season hitting .302 with 4 HR, 35 RBI, 74 R and 28 SB, though there are also some concerns. Let’s take a minute to get him to know him a little bit better and try to see if he could make an impact in ’18, or if he’s simply there to be a depth option and little else:
Newman has never hit more than 5 HR in a season, though he’s added 30 doubles and 2 triples this season. That shows that there could be a little bit of room for growth, though it’s not like he puts many balls in the air (32.9%) and that alone would limit his potential. As MLB.com notes:
The high contact rate has come with almost no power and it doesn’t appear likely that it will ever be a big part of his game.
We may be talking about an 8-10 HR hitter, even if everything comes together.
While he has 28 SB this season, it’s come in 39 attempts. That’s obviously not a very good ratio and helps to explain while he hasn’t run very much prior to this season (13 SB had been his previous career high). He’s not a burner, which helps to explain the poor success rate. As MLB.com noted:
He’s not a burner, but has enough speed to swipe a few bases and give him solid enough range to stay at shortstop.
This is Newman’s strength, as he’s posted an impressive strikeout rate throughout his minor league career:
- 2016 – 7.9%
- 2017 – 11.2%
- 2018 – 10.5%
Even against the advanced pitching in Triple-A he’s hit the ball hard (24.5% line drive rate) and made consistent contact (4.7% SwStr%), and that’s going to help him maintain a strong average. Of course, without extreme power and having not proven capable of drawing many walks (6.5% in ’18) he still may not be able to hit much more than .280ish.
He may be an ideal #2 hitter, if he could draw a few more walks, but without much power or extreme speed his appeal is going to be limited. He also may not get a lot of playing time, with Adeiny Hechavarria in the mix as well. With limited upside and potentially limited playing time, don’t expect much of an impact in ’18 from Newman (and he could prove to be more of a complimentary player in the Majors).
Sources – MILB.com, MLB.com, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Midseason Rankings: