The Pirates Prospects 2016 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2016 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. Subscribers to the site get free and discounted books, with Top Prospect subscribers getting the 2016 book for free, and Annual subscribers getting $10 off. Both levels of subscribers can also get the book for just $5. Details on all three promotions can be found on the products page, and you can subscribe to the site or upgrade your current plan on the subscriptions page.

While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. The reports will only be available to site subscribers, including those with a monthly plan. You can subscribe here, and if you like these reports, be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site to get much more analysis on every player in the system.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Willy Garcia, RF
19. Clay Holmes, RHP
18. Mitch Keller, RHP
17. Max Moroff, 2B
16. Chad Kuhl, RHP
15. Cole Tucker, SS
14. Stephen Tarpley, LHP
13. Steven Brault, LHP
12. Yeudy Garcia, RHP

We continue the countdown with the number 11 prospect, Kevin Newman.

11. Kevin Newman, SS

Newman represents a bit of a shift in the draft philosophy for the Pirates in recent years. In their early days, they could take elite prospects in the top half of the draft, who left very little question about their future as an MLB starting pitcher or starter on the field. Now that they’re picking lower in the first round, they have been sacrificing power, while focusing on speed, defense, and the ability to hit for average.

Newman fits that profile. He was drafted as a shortstop who has a line drive stroke, great plate patience, speed, and good contact skills. However, he is never going to be a power guy, instead relying on hitting for average, getting on base, and providing speed.

There are questions about this profile. The lack of power has some scouts wondering if Newman can do all of the other things well enough to eventually be a starter in the majors. There are some who question his range, although that didn’t look bad in his time in Morgantown or West Virginia. The safe bet would be to call him a future utility player, but it’s probably too early to count him out as a starter.

Like a lot of other Pirates hitting prospects, Newman has been focused early in his pro career on sitting back in his stance and seeing the ball deeper in the zone. This makes it easier for him to hit off-speed pitches and go to the middle or opposite field with his short swing.

Newman knows the limitations of his game, and is fine with the lack of power. He’s a hard-nosed player who goes all out on every play, realizing that this is his game, and helps to make up for lacking power.

It might take some time to evaluate the drafting approach by the Pirates the last two years, especially for their tendency to go with hitters who have similar profiles to Newman. He will be a big test for this approach. Because of his advanced hitting, the Pirates will most likely send him to Bradenton at the start of the 2016 season. He won’t have anyone blocking him in Altoona, which means he could make that jump by the end of the year if his results in Bradenton are good enough.

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  1. I think the Pirates have had some shaky picks the past few years. But, what I dislike the most about the Pirates selecting college players is their placement of them the first year. After three college seasons of 60+ games a year, and 2 years playing the off-season in the Cape Cod League for another 45 games a year, Newman had already experienced 250+ post HS games. Then we send him to Short-Season?

    IMO, if you draft a kid in the Top 20 after 3 years in college, the first two levels of the minors should not even be a consideration – if it is a consideration for any reason, draft someone else. Just my $0.02.

    • Advanced player or no, short season allows them to adjust to the massive change that is professional baseball without having to also deal with a full season.

      No matter how many games a kid played in college, it really isnt easy to jump in and adjust and play a full season. Some would do it fine, but it is helpful for many to have short season and then move up. Its not like they cant skip 1-2 levels after that and be right where they would be anyway.

      Itd be a really arbitrary rule to place on yourself to go “well if he cant skip 2 levels right away we shouldnt draft a college player”.

  2. I’m also not convinced Newman loses an absurd amount of value if he does have to move to second. His range is questioned as a shortstop, but it would probably be above average at second, same with his arm. He’d likely recover some of the value lost to positional adjustment in the form of being a plus defender. Second basemen tend to be roughly league average bats, and Newman seems a decent bet to be no worse than a league average bat himself, and as a plus baserunner, he could still be a 2+ WAR/year player if he moves to second.

    Between this and all other discussion, the conclusion is very clearly Newman’s floor is high.

    • How many second baseman get drafted in the first round? Especially, if they are only a singles hitter….

      • Again, lack of HR power=/= singles hitter.

        Passing off his lack of HR power as only hitting singles is a rather lazy way of judging his talent. Gap power is a thing and a skill that he does have.

  3. 19th player taken in the draft and “The safe bet would be to call him a future utility player.” Even drafting lower should still give us someone with better up side. I know, Tim, you say “safe bet,” but I believe i 1st rounder should be better than that. Hopefully, he turns into a Brock Holt. I’ll take that.

    • Have a look at the history of first round picks and the rate at which those players graduate to the majors….first round selection in no way guarantees success.

    • Without ever having seen him play, which I think is important when voicing such strong opinions like those on this forum, he sounds a lot like a guy named Groat who was a pretty fair ballplayer in his time.

      • Marty, nice comparison!

        And Groat almost was traded after the 1959 season in a multi player deal with Kansas City for Roger Maris, a player with a lot more upside. Maris was traded to the Yankees and both won the MVP award that year. Joe L Brown was of the opinion that the Pirates would not have won the Pennant and World Series without Groat.

    • “Safe bet” identifies that projection as Newman’s reasonable floor. Making the Majors is a pretty high floor for a prospect in A+. That adds to his value as a prospect.

      Move up the list of potential and reasonable outcomes, and you get what NMR posted below, a league average hitter, league average defensive shortstop with some baserunning value, a 3 WAR/year regular.

      Is his ceiling much higher than that? No, but with an elite contact skill and a really high baseball IQ, he’s also a decent bet to reach something close to his ceiling and be a Major League contributor. That’s pretty good for a late first round pick.

      • This argument of ceiling and draft placement is silly and largely academic.

        Somebody remind me the last time anyone bitched about Neil Walker being taken 11th overall?

        I’ll wait…

    • I think the irony of these (and i dont mean to single just you out, many have argued you gotta go higher upside) arguments is that many of these people would likely show up 3 years later if 2 straight late 1st round picks flame out and criticize the team. Which can be wholly unfair if you are taking a high risk/high reward type and hoping his flaws dont become giant issues in AA and AAA.

      Certainly dont wanna take purely safe bets with each pick, but this kid has 3 WAR upside at his spot. That aint nothing for a guy likely to contribute something at the ML level.

      • totally agree. My bigger issue with last year’s draft was Kramer in the 2nd. Low upside and picked SS 1st, 1st the year before, we are loaded with 2nd basemen in upper levels and 3rd with supplimental this year.

        • Yeah Kramer seemed odd. At least in the respect that they could have gone with the best available arm they liked, but who knows.

    • I agree – we should be aiming high in the first round…not looking for utility players, relief pitchers, or back of the rotation starting pitchers. In the first round, you need to looking for difference makers. Does that mean greater risk? Absolutely. I had enough of the JVB, Bullington, Sanchez, Moskos, etc type picks.

  4. I think he is too high up on the list…I would put Tucker and Garcia ahead of him. I am very skeptical of Newman, and said that right after he was drafted. I don’t think he has the arm or range to stick at short, which makes him a second baseman – and we drafted him way too high for a singles hitting second baseman…just my opinion, time will tell.

      • No, does that mean I can’t have an opinion?
        Much of what I stated above – lack of range, arm, power – are pretty much stated in EVERY scouting report on Newman. Show me one what does not.
        Do you only voice opinions about players who you have personally seen play? I doubt it…

        • It was a question guy relax. He’s had an abbreviated year in the system, and people are already pushing him to second without the player failing at short. Yeah he’s not Tulo, but a high average guy who is smart on the bases and plays average/slightly above average defense at short is a very usable commodity.

          • He played at Low A last year and struggled big time, after playing 3 years of college baseball. Tim and John will both tell you that college players are supposed to dominate in Low A (as I’ve seen at least one of them state that very thing on this site). I hope he proves me wrong, but as with Tucker, he was drafted much higher than any mock draft that I ever saw – and most of the scouting reports that I read about him said he had zero power, and his arm and range made it questionable for him to stick at SS. Could the Pirates be right, and everyone else wrong? Yes, it could happen and I hope it does. But, given our last 2 drafts, I have concerns. I am not writing him off…all I said was I didn’t think he had earned being the #11 prospect in the system – and I have a gut feeling he won’t stick at SS. I didn’t realize that was such a controversial assessment, given that many in the know say similar things about him.

        • C’mon, thats a valid question. Tough to have a hard stance like that when you havent seen him at all. Particularly when you say he cant stick at a spot.

          • There are many, many scouts saying the same thing about him – and said that about him BEFORE the draft – and I assume they know a lot more than you and I put together….

            • Thats not my point.

              My point is you acted like a dick when he asked a very civil and valid question. You can have your opinion without seeing a guy play, but people are gonna ask what you base it off…..particularly when you take a hardline stance on a prospect.

    • I would agree with Tucker. Like his upside better and he is younger. No way do i consider Garcia ahead of him though. Garcia’s upside is a 4th outfielder and he failed miserably last year attempting AAA. Would disagree on Newman being a 2nd basemen at this point… still to play out. Same was said of Mercer and he is now looked at like a good defensive SS. Would argue we should have gone upside with Round 2 pick instead of yet another high round SS in Kramer who has no position to play now other than pushing Tucker or Newman off SS.

      • There’s a lot more risk with Tucker right now after the injury, though. Knocks him down a few pegs. Definitely has more power potential and better range, but will his arm recover is a perfectly fair question to ask, which is probably why he’s lower in the rankings.

        • I would agree on the questions regarding his arm. Just see more upside to him vs. Newman. Newman’s floor is higher now but ceiling isn’t close in my estimation. Newman is older as well.

      • I guess I should have been more specific – I meant the pitcher Garcia, not the outfielder Garcia….

  5. I predict Newman breaks out this year and shows that ability to hit for average and get on base he showed at Arizona. I also predict that if he becomes the Bucs’ starting SS down the road, Pittsburghers will love the way he plays.

    • Pirate fans, of all people, should be wary of trusting the traditional shortstop scouting profile given the enormous miss on Jordy Mercer from the consensus. Lacks the classic tool set of a kid like Hanson, but has the hands and baseball IQ to make up for it.

      As for the power question, even if he ends up with a hitter profile like Ben Revere you’re still talking about a 3 WAR player with average defense at shortstop. You take that any day and be happy with a late first round pick.

      • I don’t disagree with that general assessment, its just that there were other guys still available in that slot that had much higher upside and potential. I would have passed on Newman, who may have still been available in the comp or second round…

        • Keith Law had Newman ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the class. Of course it’s only the ranking of 1 scout, but it’s hard to ask for much more than getting a player of that caliber and a potential starting SS with the 19th pick in the draft.

          • I don’t think the Pirates mentioned the signing of Keith Law as their new scout. 20-30 years ago, teams relied alot on news clippings, players coaches and such. That doesn’t happen any more. If I thought the Pirates picked Newman by seeing KL’s ranking, then, well that’s just bad.

          • That is very true, but that was an outlier…no one else had him rated anywhere near that high…doesn’t mean Law was wrong.

        • Floor vs ceiling is preferential this late in the first round, so no argument there.

          But I struggle to find a logical argument for Newman as a comp or second round pick given his consensus rankings and the fact that lesser shortstops (Martin, Holder, Mountcastle) went on the be taken in the remainder of the first round.

          Let me ask you this, are you sure the Round 2 pick of Kevin Kramer isn’t influencing your dislike for Newman in Round 1? There were big arms like Josh Staumont, Kyle Cody, Mikey Matuella, Jacob Nix still on the board when Kramer was selected, and I wonder if grabbing upside/risk with that pick instead of again playing it safe would balance the Newman pick in your mind.

          • On board with NMR here. I was more concerned with Kramer in round 2 given we had Newman in round 1 and Tucker last year. Should have gone more upside in round 2.

          • I agree that a common strategy is going with higher floor in late 1st round, but I still have trouble completely understanding that logic. Couldn’t a mid-round pick’s ceiling be higher than Newman’s floor? If you go all high-upside guys (assuming you have the bonus pool to do so), wouldn’t you eventually hit on a future average MLB position player (which is a middle of the road projection for Newman) in a late round? It seems its more out of fear of a complete swing and miss on the 1st round pick, rather than an overall maximization of draft success. I don’t dislike the Newman pick, I’m just merely trying to completely understand the “high floor” logic.

            • It may appear risk averse, but often in the first round, a team will want to get a sure asset, which is perfectly reasonable.

              And if you monitor the trade market closely, you’ll see just how much teams actually value league-average players. You don’t want your whole lineup to be league average guys (which is why you take upside fliers later in the draft), but those are really valuable pieces to a roster, and they aren’t cheap in free agency or the trade market.

              I think it’s a common strategy because it’s a *good* strategy in the current MLB transaction environment.

            • Sure, so I’m an idiot but I do read a lot about baseball and will use other club’s philosophies to try and explain this one…

              It’s generally agreed that small to mid market teams like the Pirates cannot afford star free agents and therefor must find them in the draft; that’s mostly true.

              The Cards think of this another way. They say they use the draft to *save* them money, which can then be used to sign higher dollar players like the Wainwrights and Holidays of the past.

              Yes, star players are expensive, but what gets overlooked too often is that in today’s game *average* players are stupid expensive, too. Average earns you eight figures in 2016, and there’s no way in hell the Pirates can afford to put a team of average players on the field acquired in that manner.

              Drafting high upside kids *may* result in an average player as a matter of probability, but often upside is boom or bust in the draft meaning that playing the numbers game can leave you with precious few actual successes.

              A higher success rate of average players in the draft allows you to field a team of mostly arb and pre-arb players, which then opens up the possibility of higher-dollar investments to specific players either in free agency or extensions.

              • Agreed, but I think this strategy also requires Beane-balls.

                When these guys they draft and develop won’t be extended/become too expensive/near free agency, they’ve gotta be willing to part with them in system-stocking trades because the draft isn’t always going to work…The Pirates budgetary constraints are always going to require a stocked minor league system.

                The Walker deal might’ve been a weak attempt at this and, if so, illustrates the player might have to be dealt with more than a year of control left.

                Are the Pirates willing to do that?

                Do they trust their scouting enough to accept just 2 – 2 1/2 more years of Cole?

                Have they built up enough good will with the fanbase to be able to trade Cutch in 18 months or less?

                • Well the “high floor” average player system could, if they do trust their development team, allow them a chance to afford a guy like Cole.

                  They fill the IF in 3 years with guys like Newman and Hayes and Tucker and use money not spent there on one big contract. Obviously not all 3 of those guys are guaranteed to make it, but the entire point of high floor guys is to attempt to maximize the chances more of those types do end up being at least useful ML options in some capacity.

                  Cutch is a whole new ballgame of “oh crap, he costs 2 arms and a foot”

                • Yes, and no.

                  As long as they’re in contention, I think there will be Martin-Liriano-Burnett type situations where the value of the player in his last year is greater than the prospects they would bring back to the farm.

                  I think Huntington & Co have shown that they can add quality players at value through pro scouting and analysis. If they truly were dependent on their farm system, I think we’d be looking at year 25 of The Streak.

                  IMO, Beane can be guilty of being *too* aggressive.

                  • Well, I’d point out there is a difference.

                    With Martin/Liriano/Burnett…none of them were drafted and developed…they came here needing some tweaks, were quite reasonable in price, and were offered QO’s…well, AJ wasn’t, but the Pirates would have if they thought he’d jump ship.

                    Cutch, Cole, maybe Marte and Polanco down the line…they aren’t guys you got two good years from…as is the case with the others…they were brought up through the system and had a lot more invested in them than just salary.

                    As well, none of the other group was a stud. Martin might have been the closest, but, for the most part, they were just really good.

                    If the Pirates ‘only’ get a late first-rounder for Cole or Cutch or Marte…ugh…that’s not good. Not good, at all. There’s no way to reasonably suspect the team could come close to calling that a fair return for the talent lost.

                    Yeah, Beane has his bad moments. Donaldson stands out at the moment…though Barreto was an absolute monster in A+ and Graveman seems solid.

                    • We’re gonna have to agree to disagree on this one.

                      I don’t see how the manner in which a player is acquired has any bearing on whether or not to trade them for future talent in their last year of control.

                      Plus, Russ Martin was coming off a 4-win season in his last year of control, as was Burnett. Liriano was worth 3.3 WAR. Cole and Marte are gonna have to take a step forward before we can talk about them being appreciably more valuable than RM/AJ/FL.

                    • Not too sure about the numbers, but Cole was 5+ last season and Marte had a dip in 2015, but is still at 4.3 over the last three years.

                      But, to be fair…I am assuming Cole is going to progress. Though, I’d argue, in today’s market…if he were a free agent right now…he could easily find a $22M AAV deal. Another solid season, and he’s a $25/yr player…one more and he’s probably pushing $30M. Obviously, that’s more than the Pirates can afford and so much in trade value…it would be foolish to ignore it.

                      With any player, I think, you have to a get a return from them that is commiserate with their talent level. You can pencil Marte in for 4+ WAR every year…and Cole is probably better right now.

                      My opinion?

                      If they’re going to walk, you simply cannot accept a #30-#40 draft pick as compensation. It’s a long term depletion of the system.

                      I think the wiser course is to lose 1.5 years of their production and receive two+ blue chippers.

                      The key is, the pipeline of talent has to be constantly flowing. Trading Cole now would, probably, be horrific. It’s having someone already in place to take up as much slack as possible that is necessary.

                      Hypothetically, if Taillon and Glasnow develop…trading Cole for 2-3 extremely promising AA guys wouldn’t be an issue. If, a couple of seasons from now, it’s Cole plus four Vogelsongs/Lockes in the rotation…yeah, you have to rethink it.

                      But, to boil it down, when you’re a low revenue team…if you latch onto something spectacular, milk it for everything you can for 5-6 years, then trade it for the best return possible to restock the system.

                      What it comes down to is this: if, tomorrow, you found out the Pirates traded Connor Joe for Chris Sale, would you do a happy dance? If you let Cole go for a compensation pick, you’re pretty much on the other end of that trade.

                    • I don’t think many Pirate fans would look back and give up that 90-92 run in order to sell bonilla, bonds, and drabek earlier to restock the system. we were 1 stupid play away from going to the world series. None of us would give that up so that we were a little closer to the .500 mark for 3-4 years afterwards. You run the risk of never having a great team that can win championships, just so you can keep being “good”. I don’t want to follow in Tampa Bay’s footsteps, I also don’t believe in going “all-in” and mortgaging your future AKA the marlins of the past. I absolutely believe you don’t trade the players just as they are going to get you to the world series just so you can keep being a borderline wild card team longer, hoping for a miracle WS victory, Sometimes it’s okay to take your 2 shots at the world series, knowing you might have a losing record for a year or two before you are really good again. I think we can handle that

                    • So, what you’re saying is…the Pirates held that core together until it could no longer afford it…

                      …then went on a record setting losing streak.

                      Is that about right?

                    • which wouldn’t have been prevented by adding 3-4 more prospects, but it would have kept us from having those great memories that we, as fans, will cherish our entire lives had we dismantled them, keeping in mind back then there was zero compensation for those players being lost and no profit sharing either in MLB. are you even an actual fan of baseball?

                    • Just responding to the next to last paragraph here, because I think it is a bit of a misconception. Do not discount the very :”real” value that comes with keeping a star player on a team that has a chance to win a championship. How much value does it bring to the team if they win one in $ figures, how much does it bring in terms of a free agent wanting to go to that winning team, how much does it sell in terms of additional merchandise. What it comes down to, is that by holding onto that “cutch” for the last year of the contract gets you the late first rounder, plus all the benefit of having him on a playoff or championship contending team. Owners, first office people, and fans who don’t realize that very real tangible value, miss the real point of baseball and the business 1. To win 2. To make money In some situations holding onto that player for the xtra year could make the team another 5-10 in profit from that season just being a more succesful team, which could in itself help them sign another player in addition to that late first rounder they get as comp. – Plus it doesn’t alienate a fan base that values a championship above profit or “next year”

                    • What is paramount is keeping a constant stream of talent flowing through the system…such that trading one player doesn’t bury the team.

                      As I’ve stated, if the pitchers the Pirates are banking on…Taillon and Glasnow, mostly…develop to the ceiling, holding Cole until he leaves as a free agent is foolish. If it’s Cole and four Locke/Vogelsong clones a few years from now…well, that’s a different scenario.

                      The key is to develop prospects and trade away folks that can’t be retained for more prospects…develop those, and trade away the old prospects…all the while, hoping the scouting department is pulling in enough international and draft talent.

                      It’s not a bold theory…obviously not every draft pick, trade acquisition, and international signing is going to flourish. The goal is to constantly replenish and, incrementally, increase the talent base in a way that doesn’t involve what the Pirates can’t do…namely…buying proven players at market rates.

                      Look at the team and the catching situation now…they have two trade acquisitions at the major league level, an international player at AAA and a draft pick at (probably) AA. they shouldn’t be married to any of them. If Diaz performs well at AAA this season, they have the option of shedding Cervelli at the deadline. If Diaz is a stud and McGuire ever learns how to hit efficiently….in two to three years you can look at trading the former and promoting the latter…and, with these transactions, constantly be adding solid talent to the system.

                      The Pirates are never going to be outbid 75% of teams…if they’re going to be consistent winners…and this success isn’t just a blip…they need to have a revolving door of talent and the organization and fans can’t be married to the idea of holding on to a guy just because he’s good.

                    • Blaine- seriously “If it’s Cole and four Locke/Vogelsong clones a few years from now…well, that’s a different scenario” – actually NO, this IS the scenario where you are trading him, because there is no value in keeping him. If taillon and Glasnow reach their ceiling, you have the best 1-3 in baseball which can win a championship and THAT- is what is paramount.

                      Your theory which you are stating as some grand plan, has not allowed any teams that I’m aware of- to win a championship, just allows small market teams to compete. We need to grow beyond that, not be comfortable with being “decent” and not ever experiencing a losing season again. Your theory leaves us (just like it left the Rays) in a situation where their fans are left hoping that the stars align one magical year with a super young team that magically overcomes their lack of high end talent to win a championship, but passing up opportunities every year to do it- in order to not take a step or two back 2 years later. It is, quite honestly- absurd to me.

                      My theory- is also not bold- it requires you to keep the high end players that you developed until you can’t, fill their positions with players via free agency for a year or two while other prospects are ready if necessary, using the extra money you made as an organization by keeping that player and maintaining excellence and thus a higher profit which is gained by having an arbitration player which is intrinsically getting paid less than market value, and putting it back into your payroll to pay other players, extending them into their free agency years, and continuing to develop your talent. You trade those players in their final year at the deadline if you struggle, if you can get more value than by extending them a QO at the end of the year.

                      This theory- actually has been done by teams that have actually won championships.

                      If you can explain to me, how in the blazes of hell,your theory would ever allow a team to go into the postseason with the best possible team to try to win a world series, i’d love to hear it. In your world you would intentionally weaken your team each year your best player is a year away from free agency despite the team’s success. GM’s everywhere would be fired if they dismantled a team in first or second place. The team would lose fans permanently, and thus lose even more ability to pay their players. All around horrible and poorly thought out decision making process tree.

                    • I agree with this strategy, pretty much exactly. It’s not cause Nutting is cheap, blah, blah, blah, it is simply the reality of out market situation, and will always (in my lifetime) be. For all the hand- wringing I see in the comments, don’t remember the Yankees, Red Sox or Dodgers winning it last year. Maybe should all think about that before we say, spend, spend, spend. Whether baseball or business, all about have a good organization top to bottom, otherwise inevitable collapse. There is also no specific formula for winning the Series. You have to get in, get hot and get a little lucky, no different than football.

            • Pre-injury, sure. But I think you gotta be talking about a serious stud to pop a kid recovering from TJS that high. Didn’t seem like many thought Matuella was on the Giolito/Hoffman/Aiken level.

            • Cameron signed for way, way over slot. The Astros must’ve saved money everywhere else to get him. The Bucs might’ve had to plan their whole draft around him or risk losing him. But who the hell knows what type of figures get thrown around pre-draft between players and teams with the new system.

              • Yeah, Cameron was a pipe dream but Nikorak and Plummer were fair answers IMO.

                I, personally, don’t fault them for shying away from another HS RHP in the first round, given injury and attrition risk.

              • Not only did the Astros go under slot in many late round picks to afford Cameron, they also had $17M bonus pool allotment to start with, the most in MLB, due to failing to sign Brady Aiken in 2014. By comparison the Pirates had $7M to work with.

                • And to their credit, they used it pretty brilliantly. Really maximized the resources they had to get some high-upside, high-bonus guys everyone else was forced to shy away from.

                  • Talk about a Huntington-like turnaround for the perception of that organization and rebuild plan.

                    The Correa draft looks genius and even the Aiken situation is going to be remembered positively, even if they were kinda dicks.

          • Some people were cranky they passed on Nikorak. Not to put words in anyone’s mouth but some were disappointed about them passing on him. Very stark contrast in the 2014 and 2015 first round picks as far as upside vs. polish.

            • I like the process – adapting drafting strategy based on failure of previous high upside pitching focus – and give them the benefit of the doubt because of that, but they’ll certainly have to prove they have the scouting chops to identify the correct player to fit said strategy.

      • You know, I loved the Mercer pick when we made it, slotted him in as our starting shortstop down the road when we made it. I don’t even know what made me so confident it was a good pick. I just had a feeling about it.

        Very scientific, I know, but it worked!

        • Mercer was a “dirtbag” playing wherever Ok St wanted him to play, and finished college as the career Saves leader for the school. He was selected Conference 1st team as a Utility player, 2nd Team as a SS, and Hon Mention as a Relief Pitcher/Closer. He was a ballplayer’s ballplayer. We need Mercer badly in 2016 – his bat, his glove, and especially his leadership

          d’A was no slouch and was a very slick fielder. I thought he would be the better of the two at SS, and looked the part up into AAA, but crap happens.

      • If you believe that Jordy Mercer was a huge miss, how can you possibly be optimistic about Newman? Mercer was a third round pick and signed for a half million dollars and has been the starting shortstop for one of the winningest teams in MLB. Newman signed for 2.17 million and is regarded as a future utility player, i.e. Sean Rodriguez.

        • He means fans and scouts missed on him and Mercer stuck at short and became a good defensive shortstop despite the consensus among fans and pundits that he’d end up at second.

            • I took the meaning stanek did when I read the first sentence, but the second one pretty unambiguously clarified your meaning, I thought.

              Or, in another way, ur wordz were fine.

          • I don’t know how anyone would have pegged Mercer for second base. He doesn’t have great range, but he is adequate – and he has a decent arm. I also like his size for a SS…he’s tall and that helps his range, because he has the longer reach.
            The best part about Mercer is he makes all the routine plays. I’d rather have that at SS, then the guy who makes a lot of highlight reel plays, but then boots routine plays far too frequently.

      • Can you elaborate on the Jordy Mercer comment? I don’t disagree, just ignorant of his prospect status (or lack thereof) a few years back.

        • Sure, Joseph. Coming up through the minors, Mercer was typically seen as too big (6’4″) and too slow for a “traditional” shortstop, and his unconventional arm didn’t help, either. Even the Pirates seemed to favor Chase d’Arnaud at the position, and most of the prominent prospect folks capped him as at best being a bat-first utility infielder who could fake it at short but not much more than that.

          Former FanGraphs prospect analyst (now working for the Atlanta Braves) even referenced Mercer in an article about subjectivity in scouting shortstops: .

          This was a case where they “eye test” missed his steady hands, accurate arm, and good-enough range while looking for what “typically” makes a good shortstop.

    • Something else I was thinking about the other day, is it possible to argue a guy like Newman could end up benefiting the club more than the sum of his parts?

      Allow us to foolishly look three years or so down the line…you could conceivably have Newman, Harrison, Meadows, Ramirez, Bell, Diaz/McGuire as guys who strike out less than 15% of the time in one lineup. That would almost surely be one of the lowest power producing clubs in recent memory, but it could also be historically good at making contact, which *may* have a compounding effect.

      • It worked for the Royals.

        I remember Newman also being a really good hit-and-run hitter, which coupled with some of the speed they’ll likely have in their lineup, would open up some small ball options.

        • To me, when I have seen some film of Newman, the guy he reminds me of is Ted Sizemore – and that is a pretty good compliment. If he can be anything like Sizemore, he will have been a good pick.

      • That, agree or not, does seem to be the early signs of the PGH method in recent drafting. Fill up with good defense, contact options where the offense isnt striking out much.

        Gonna need 1-2 power threats (which might mean 20-25 HRs depending on how the game progresses) but a lineup that doesnt K much at all would be interesting.

    • Given how he closed the 2015 season, I am excited to see how Jordan Luplow does in 2016…he is one of my breakout candidates for the upcoming season. Now, if he can also improve with his glove, we may have found a third baseman…

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