Former Arizona Wildcat star and 2015 Pac-12 Player of the Year Kevin Newman was called up by the Pittsburgh Pirates on Thursday, kickstarting a promising MLB career. Newman, who just turned 25, was a star this season at Triple-A Indianapolis.
In 109 games, he slashed .302/.350/.407 with 28 stolen bases. On August 7, he hit for the cycle for the Indians (sure enough, so did former big leaguer and teammate Jacob Stallings), signifying a code green for a call-up.
Kingery, a Phoenix native who was a walk-on at Arizona before becoming a household name, made all the papers back in April when he was given the largest contract ever for a minor leaguer yet to make his MLB debut.
$24 million guaranteed blew past the $10 million Jon Singleton received from the Astros in 2014 (the former top prospect and prize of the 2011 Hunter Pence deal is currently serving his third drug suspension) and also exceeded the near-$18 million Evan Longoria got after Longo played six big league games.
Kingery turned 24 at the end of April and John boldly rated him 25th overall in his 2018 prospects list with the following notation.
Locked up through at least 2023 with lucrative club options going through 2026, it’s been a rather tough rookie year for the versatile utility player in Philly.
He’s hitting just .226 in 115 games —he’s played second base, shortstop, third base, left, center and right field in 92 starts— but does have six home runs and nine stolen bases and has been a steady presence during the Phillies breakout campaign.
He also made his pitching debut on Thursday when the opposing Mets shellacked 24 runs on the Phills. For those scoring at home, 1.1 innings with a pair of runs allowed.
Between Newman and Kingery, the star-studded 2015 Arizona Wildcats roster still has some more to offer in the coming years.
The pair above both departed after their junior seasons as expected, while fellow junior pitcher Xavier Borde was a 36th round selection by Baltimore but hasn’t pitched affiliated ball since 2016.
Another junior, Zach Gibbons remained for his senior season and was selected in the 17th round in 2016 by the Los Angeles Angels. After quickly graduating High-A last year, the 24-year old is currently putting together a very good season for Double-A Mobile, hitting .262.
He was named the MVP of the 2018 Southern League All-Star Game after going 3-for-3 with four RBI and three runs scored.
Also in the 2016 draft, another member of the Wildcats was selected in the fourth round. Third baseman and college pitcher Bobby Dalbec has had a big 2018 in the Boston Red Sox system.
He’s only hitting now (as fully expected) and the 23-year old was recently bumped up to Double-A Portland after hitting 26 home runs with 27 doubles and driving in 85 runs in 130 games for High-A Salem.
So far, so good in 13 games with Portland. He’s hitting .298 with five long balls.
Also on the 2015 (and 2016 and 2017) Arizona clubs was college infielder J.J. Matijevic. Matijevic was originally selected by Dalbec’s final destination, the Red Sox, in the 22nd round back in 2014.
After three seasons at Zona, he was scooped up by the Houston Astros in the second round (39th overall) and has also had a very productive 2018 himself.
While he didn’t hit for average in his first pro sample last season, he did collect seven home runs and 11 stolen bases between Short-A and Low-A while moving from middle infield in college to corner outfield in the pros.
He’s been all about left field last season and this season, and this year the 22-year old dominated Low-A Quad Cities in just 13 games, prompting a move to High-A Buies Creek.
There he’s hitting .256 and continues to flex his combo meal skill set with 15 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 73 games.
Newman joins Kingery in The Show while Dalbec climbs the Red Sox prospect ladder, Gibbons flies under the radar and Matijevic could be the next Astros prospect to really watch.