Name: Shervyen Newton
Weight: 180 lbs.
Acquired: IFA, July 2, 2015 (Tilburg, Netherlands)
109 G, 382 AB, .209/.283/.330, 80 H, 15 2B, 2 3B, 9 HR, 37 BB, 139 K, 1/5 SB, .305 BABIP (Low-A)
When the 2015-2016 international free agent signing period began, the Mets handed out seven-figure deals to Andres Gimenez and Guerrero-clan member Gregory Guerrero, eating into most of the money that had available. The largest bonus they gave after signing that duo was $50,000, given to Shervyen Newton, a 16-year-old shortstop from Tilburg, Netherlands, by way of Curaçao. Newton wasn’t exactly impressive in his first year of organized ball, hitting .169/.347/.229 in 35 games in the DSL in 2016, but he looked much better in his second year there, where he hit .311/.433/.444 in 66 games. He made his stateside debut in 2018, getting promoted to the Kingsport Mets, and the young shortstop more than held his own, hitting .280/.408/.449 in 56 Appalachian League games. Promoted to the Columbia Fireflies for the 2019 season, Newton appeared to be primed for a breakout. Instead, a shoulder injury delayed his season debut for about a month, and when he finally got back on the field, he struggled to hit. It may have been the shoulder injury, being overmatched by Low-A pitchers, learning new hitting mechanics, or a combination of all three, but Newton hit a paltry .209/.283/.330 in 109 games.
Newton is tall and leggy and his 6’4”, 180-pound frame is likely to add more mass. At the plate, he holds his hands high and swings with a slight leg kick. He has impressive bat speed, swinging with a bit of loft. It gets a bit long when he’s trying to hit for power, but the amount of raw power that he generates from the torque created by that long, violent swing is impressive- it is easily plus raw power. His hit tool lags a bit behind his power potential, as he often gets crossed up by spin and is unable to adjust and stay back. A switch hitter, Newton has had more success swinging from the right side, rather than the left.
Defensively, Newton has experience playing all over the infield. He is quick-twitch fast, reads the ball well off the bat, possesses above-average range, and has a plus arm, skills that translate well at second base, third base, and shortstop. He may eventually have to shift out of the infield and into the outfield if he loses some of his quick twitch muscle, but he is athletic and mobile enough to survive in the outfield as well.
The 2019 season was pretty much a lost year for Newton. He missed some time early on because of injury and just was never really able to get it going for the entire year with the exception of a few minor hot streaks here and there. The power potential- his loudest tool- is still there, and he is still a dynamic defender who can play anywhere in the infield, so all is not lost, but we’re approaching the point in his career where we need to start seeing results.
Well, we knew Newton was a high-risk prospect coming into the season, but I didn’t expect him to crash quite that hard. Unsurprisingly, a hitter with a 31.6% strikeout rate in rookie ball struck out just as much in Single-A, but Newton’s ability to walk or post insane BABIP (read: make loud contact) were greatly impacted. He’s not in the “young-for-the-league” bin like Vientos and Mauricio, and he’ll presumably need another go ‘round in Columbia as a 21-year-old next season. The violent swing and raw power are there making him a worthwhile lottery ticket, but the major contact issues make him little more than just that.
After a breakout performance with Kingsport in 2018, Newton struggled to adapt to full-season pitching in 2019. The toolsy Dutch infielder struck out in 32.9% of his plate appearances in the South Atlantic League in 2019, which was the second consecutive season Newton has had in which he struck out in more than 30% of his trips to the plate. While the hit tool came into questions against more advanced arms, Newton did walk a bit to keep his OBP above water, and managed to hit 9 home runs in 423 plate appearances. Newton remains extremely raw at the plate, which makes sense given his age and level of competitive experience, but there is still considerable upside here if it comes together. There’s considerable raw power in his large frame, and more than enough bat speed to get at least some of it to play in games if the hit tool develops to a point where he can make more consistent contact. 2019 proved that Newton still needs to improve a lot if he is going to reach his potential, but the underlying skills remain just as intriguing now as they did prior to the 2019 season.
One of the most exciting things in previous years about Newton was his power. He slugged around .440 in both 2017 and 2018, making it his calling card, arguably. However, he tumbled down to earth a bit in 2019 at Single-A Columbia, as he had an OPS of .613 after having an OPS in the .800s the previous two seasons. Overall, a lot of it was his strikeouts. He struck out a whopping 139 times in 423 plate appearances, which was always a potential problem that ended up becoming a real one. While his career his far from over, he is going to have to correct that in 2020.