Pirates select shortstop Newman at No. 19
University of Arizona junior hit .370 with 22 stolen bases in 2015 season
PITTSBURGH -- In the weeks leading up to the Draft, the Pirates were connected almost exclusively to high school pitchers. But all along, they maintained their interest in a player on the complete opposite end of the spectrum.
The Bucs showed as much interest as anybody in Kevin Newman throughout the scouting process. So as the first round played out Monday night, Newman said he had a hunch he'd wind up with Pittsburgh.
Midway through the first round, the University of Arizona shortstop received a phone call that turned his prediction into reality. The Pirates selected Newman, 21, with the 19th pick, continuing their recent trend of using early picks on position players.
"When I found out it was the Pirates, I was ecstatic," Newman said during a conference call with reporters Monday night.
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
Newman, MLBPipeline.com's No. 29 Draft prospect, headed to Arizona after going undrafted out of Poway (Calif.) High School in 2012.
"It was just fuel in the fire. I went to Arizona and kept my head down and worked hard," Newman said. "Thirty teams passed up coming out of high school, and I wanted to make 29 of them regret it."
Regarded as one of the best pure college hitters available this year, Newman won back-to-back batting titles in the Cape Cod League, hitting .375 in 2013 and .385 last summer.
Newman said he hasn't played anything but shortstop since Little League, and he hopes to stick there when he starts playing pro ball.
"We like a lot of the things he does defensively; we like the athlete and we like the bat," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said.
The slot value of the 19th pick is listed at $2,273,800. The Pirates were assigned a total pool of $7,392,200 for the first 10 rounds of the Draft, the 11th-highest total in the Majors.
After emphasizing pitching atop the Draft from 2010-12, the Pirates have their early picks to load up on position players the last three years, adding three more hitters with their first three picks Monday.
Newman, their latest first-rounder, grew up as a big Padres fan. He idolized Derek Jeter. The California native doesn't know much about Pittsburgh yet, but he hopes to learn a lot more -- and he's eager to get started here soon.
"I've been preparing to get going and get out of here and go play somewhere," Newman said. "Right now, I'm still kind of on a high of getting selected. I can't wait to get out there and put on the uniform and go play."