Pirates sign top pick Kevin Newman
PITTSBURGH (AP) Kevin Newman held up the Pittsburgh Pirates jersey with the No. 15 on it and the name of the team's top pick in last week's draft on the back when someone blurted out ''Hello, Newman.''
From just off the stage Newman's father John laughed good-naturedly and said ''never heard that one.''
The Newman clan better get used to it. Newman signed with Pittsburgh on Monday, a week after the Pirates grabbed the former Arizona shortstop with the 19th overall selection in the draft.
''Our guys fell in love with him last year, hoped he would get to us, never dreamed he would,'' Pittsburgh general manager Neal Huntington said. ''We like him as a shortstop because he has the defensive skills to stay at the position, we love the bat.''
And the potential.
The 21-year-old Newman grew up emulating Derek Jeter. The Pirates would settle for Newman building on a stellar college career. He was an All-Pac 12 selection during each of his three seasons with the Wildcats, hitting .370 with 19 doubles, two homers and 22 stolen bases for Arizona this spring.
Newman will begin his professional career next week when he reports to the West Virginia Black Bears of the New York-Penn League. While Huntington anticipates a bit of a transition for the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Newman, it might be short. Newman proved he can handle a wood bat as easily as he handled an aluminum one during two summers playing in the Cape Cod League, where he was a two-time batting champion.
Not that Newman is dwelling on the past.
''College really taught me how to be time useful, manage my time really well,'' he said. ''Routine coming into pro ball, routine is key and I'm just looking to continue to add and find my routine here.''
Huntington plans to keep Newman at shortstop for now even though the Pirates took high school shortstop Cole Tucker with their first-round pick in 2014. Tucker and Newman are good friends, having met when Tucker made a recruiting trip to Arizona.
Tucker already gave Newman a shoutout on Twitter, saying he was looking forward to the two playing together. To do that one of them will likely have to move. Newman has spent his entire baseball life at shortstop save for a brief cameo at second base in Little League. He's open for anything. There will be time to see where he fits in. For now, he's only too happy to get going, which is why he practically sprinted to the bargaining table.
''I wanted to play as soon as possible,'' he said. ''To get the extra at bats, that's what we all want.''