#3 Nick Kingham
Nick Kingham comes in at number three on this list. A prospect who some of you may have forgotten about, Kingham faced Tommy-John Surgery in 2015. If not for the surgery, the right-handed pitcher would be up pitching for the Pirates already.
Kingham was a fourth round pick by the Pirates in the 2010 draft. Another tall, projectable pitcher out of Sierra-Vista High School, Nevada, Kingham is six-foot-six and 215 pounds. In high school Kingham missed his junior year. He transferred schools and had to sit out, this caused him to be available in the fourth round for the Pirates. He was a consensus top 200 prospect in the draft. He was committed to Oregon but settled to sign with the Pirates for nearly 500 thousand dollars.
Kingham’s stuff is excellent and goes along with his big frame. Hist fastball sits 93-95 miles per hour, and his change-up is considered a plus pitch. His curve-ball was the biggest question mark when he was drafted. It has now turned into a plus pitch that he has been able to strikeout batters with consistently. With a strong three pitch mix Kingham has found himself ranked as a top 12 prospect for the Pirates (according to most major prospect sites).
In his career he has been very dominant. At times Kingham struggles with control, especially early in his career, but that is expected from young, big pitchers who are developing their pitching and into their bodies. However, with each passing year Kingham has shown improvement. On his minor league career Kingham owns a 3.35 ERA with a solid 1.19 WHIP. The biggest thing is that his strikeout to walk ratio sits at a 3.00. During his first season his strikeouts per nine innings was only six, but has has seen that number rise and his walks fall as he now fans about nine per nine innings and walks only 2.5.
Kingham started in Triple-A for the 2015 season. The results were not very strong in his six starts putting a 4.21 ERA. However, it all made sense as he came out of his sixth start with pain in his elbow. A lot of times you when you see good pitchers struggling for untold reasons it is not a surprise that they need Tommy-John Surgery. Kingham’s elbow most likely was damaged already and he was trying to pitch without knowing. When it finally completely let out, it explained his struggles. Kingham likely will not be back until July this year. Unfortunately for him and the Pirates he could have been a big part of this team’s rotation this year. During his time off Kingham has been able to study and refine his mechanics, something we heard Jameson Taillon was able to do during his rehab period.
Kingham ranks third on this list because he is knocking at the big league door and has three advanced pitches and the size of a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. If he comes back at all like Taillon has, he will still be a big part of this team’s future.
Next: A Big Texan