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Kevin Newman ready to start journey through minor leagues

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Kevin Newman met for the first time with the Pittsburgh media this afternoon at PNC Park.

"Our guys fell in love with him last year," Neal Huntington said, as he introduced the Pirates first round pick. "We hoped he'd get to us, but never dreamed that he would."

Newman will begin his professional career with the West Virginia Black Bears.

"We like him as a shortstop because he has the defensive skills to stay at the position," Huntington said. "We love the bat and we think there is going to be leadership ability in this young man as he comes through the system."

After Huntington introduced Newman, it was time for that awkward moment when the draft pick puts on the Pirates jersey for the first time in front of a bank of cameras and room full of media. Last season, Cole Tucker messed around with the buttons for a few uncomfortable seconds, leading him to crack, "They always say, ‘You don't want to be the guy up there fiddling with his buttons in front of the entire press conference, [but] it's not the worst feeling.'"

Today, as the room grew hushed, a camera man barked out a Seinfeld-inspired greeting, "Hello, Newman." To which, Newman's father quietly deadpanned, "He's never heard that before. Just wait until Kramer gets here."

"Thank you to all involved. It's an honor and a blessing to have been selected by the Pirates and officially be here and be a Pirate," Newman said. "This whole week was like I was almost dreaming. Getting here and signing papers, I still can't believe it's happening."

Newman was named the first-team Pac-12 selection this year after hitting .370 with 19 doubles, one triple, two home runs, 36 RBI and 22 stolen bases in 55 games with the University of Arizona. He also won back-to-back batting titles in the Cape Cod League after hitting .375 in 2013 and .380 in 2014.

With all his accomplishments, Newman sees plenty of room to improve his game.

"Everything can improve," Newman said. "I like to pride myself on hard work and improving myself every single day. All aspects of my game, I like to improve ... It is great to have had that success but it is behind me now. I'm going to look forward and try to continue what I've done at this level."

Asked who he most modeled his game after, Newman went with a pretty good shortstop.

"Growing up I modeled after Derek Jeter," Newman said. "He was the reason I wore number two. On-and-off the field a phenomenal athlete and great guy. I've tried to model after him."

As he prepares to begin his professional career Friday in Morgantown, Newman already has a friend in the organization — fellow shortstop and last year's first round pick, Cole Tucker.

"We're good friends," Newman said. "He was actually committed to coming to the University of Arizona. When he came on his official recruiting trip, I meet him and became real good friends with him."

Newman expects to be in the starting lineup Friday when the Black Bears begin their season.