Pirates' Newman homers on four-hit night

No. 7 prospect stays hot; Musgrove nearly perfect in rehab start

Kevin Newman boasts a 12 percent strikeout rate in 125 plate appearances this season. (Adam Pintar/Indianapolis Indians)

By Gerard Gilberto / MiLB.com | May 12, 2018 11:52 PM

As he's proven to be adept at setting the table for a stacked Triple-A Indianapolis lineup, Kevin Newman also showed he has what it takes to leap off the scouting report.

The Pirates' seventh-ranked prospect slugged his first homer of the season and doubled on a four-hit night as Triple-A Indianapolis edged Columbus, 2-1, on Saturday at Victory Field.

Gameday box score

"Any time, at this level, that you can get a night like tonight, you take it. Everybody at this level is close and everyone knows it and I personally just try to keep my head down and be where I am and control what I can control," Newman said. "Tonight, I felt like I did a good job of that and just continued to do what I can do for this team and that's just to get on base and put the hitter behind me in a better spot."

The 24-year-old led off the opening inning with the long ball that was all the support that Joe Musgrove needed as the rehabbing big leaguer tossed 5 2/3 no-hit frames.

"I never try to hit home runs and when they happen, they're pretty much just the result of a constant approach," Newman said. "You just get one right every once in a while."

The homer was his first in the International League and first since July 4. Saturday's performance marked the fourth four-hit game of Newman's career and first since 2016 as he improved his average to .297 in his first full season on the Triple-A level. The Poway, California, native has 10 hits in his last 17 at-bats, including a three-hit performance Friday night.

Video: Indy's Newman cracks lead-off homer

"The only difference is I'm not hitting the ball right at people," Newman said. "You play this game and you go through stints where you have that and it feels like there's nothing you can do. But just stuck to the same approach. ... I haven't done anything different. Just continued to work on my approach and go through my work days as best I can and prepare myself as best I can for the game and it's starting to pay off."

The 2015 first-round pick debuted in the IL for 40 games last season, batting .283/.314/.373 with 13 extra-base hits and 23 runs scored. He began 2017 with Double-A Altoona and left the Eastern League with a .259 average and 42 runs scored before a July promotion.

A crafty leadoff hitter with an above-average hit tool, Newman has a .336 on-base percentage in his four-year Minor League career. His skills come in handy when he's hitting atop a lineup with three other ranked prospects, including No. 2 Austin Meadows, No. 8 Kevin Kramer and No. 22 Jordan Luplow

"That's my role, that's what I'm going to be able to bring to the table anywhere I go," Newman said. "To have those guys behind me is great. ... I get on to first base and I'm potentially one ball in the gap away from scoring and you steal a base and you're a base hit away from scoring for those guys. That's pretty much what I try and do everywhere, and it definitely helps having that sort of talent behind me."

Newman jumped on Adam Wilk's second pitch in the opening inning Saturday and drove it over the fence in left.

"I always stick to the same approach and that's just getting a pitch to hit over the plate and hitting a hard line drive somewhere," the University of Arizona product said. "He gave me a good fastball over the plate and I put a good swing on it."

He lined a single back through the middle to start the third and blooped another base hit to center in his final at-bat against the left hander in the fifth. Facing right-hander Neil Ramirez with two outs in the seventh, Newman punched a double to right.

The 26-year-old Musgrove, who was acquired from the Astros in the January trade that sent right-hander Gerrit Cole eto the World Series champions, has been limited to two rehab starts while working his way back from a shoulder injury.

Video: Musgrove notches sixth K for Indy

"He was spectacular tonight, just really pounded the zone," Newman said. "He didn't care who was hitting, he didn't care what the situation was, he was going to throw the pitch that he and [catcher] Jacob Stallings wanted to throw and his mentality is just a bulldog mentality. He's going to go right after you."

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Musgrove fanned six and threw 60 of 79 pitches for strikes while allowing just one baserunner on an error in the top of the first. 

"It was a lot of fun and there was no wasted time," Newman said. "He got up there and obviously he's got some really good stuff and it plays up because of his mentality and it was a lot of fun to play defense behind him."

Meadows, MLB.com's No. 44 overall prospect, collected two hits and his seventh stolen base of the season.

Gerard Gilberto is a contributor to MiLB.com. Follow and interact with him on Twitter, @GerardGilberto4. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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