2017 Pittsburgh Pirates Breakout Candidate: Nick Kingham
Starting pitcher Nick Kingham could be a breakout candidate for the 2017 Pittsburgh Pirates
Spring Training is nearly a week old for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2017 the team will be looking to return to the postseason after they failed to reach the postseason for the first time since 2012 last season. If this is going to happen there is still a hole that needs filled, and that hole is in the starting rotation.
Right-handed pitcher Nick Kingham has all the tools needed to fill that hole for the Pirates. The 25-year old Kingham has yet to make his Major League debut, though. This is what makes him a breakout candidate for 2017.
The Pirates drafted Nick Kingham in the fourth round of the 2010 draft. Due to the combination of his curveball and change up Kingham quickly began to ascend through the Pirate farm system. It appeared all of his work would pay off in 2015.
Entering the 2015 season Nick Kingham was one of the top-75 prospects in all of baseball. After making 14 starts at Triple-A in 2014 he appeared to be knocking on the doors of the Major Leagues. Unfortunately for Kingham, injuries would intervene.
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Nick Kingham made six starts for Triple-A Indianapolis in 2015. It appeared he was just a few weeks away from a Major League call up. However, that’s when the bad news came.
This is when Kingham found out he would need Tommy John Surgery. This would cause him to miss the rest of the 2015 season and most of the 2016 season. However, he would make 10 rehab starts in the Minor Leagues in 2016 and now is ready to impact the Major Leagues.
If not for his Tommy John Surgery Nick Kingham would already be in the Major Leagues. He will begin the 2017 season at Triple-A, largely due to the fact his arm flat out needs to log innings. This is similar to the boat Jameson Taillon was in last year at this time. But, assuming he is healthy, Nick Kingham will be in the Major Leagues sooner rather than later.
Nick Kingham has both a plus curveball and a plus change up. Thanks in large part to his plus change up, Kingham has always done well against left-handed hitters in the Minor Leagues. His fastball sits in the low-to-mid 90s.
Kingham’s strongest trait is his control. In 580 2/3 career Minor League innings pitched, Nick Kingham has averaged just 2.48 BB/9. He also does not allow very many home runs having allowed just 40 home runs (0.62 HR/9) in his Minor League career. Throughout his Minor League career he has also done a great job on inducing ground balls.
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While Nick Kingham will never anchor a starting rotation, he can be a very good complimentary piece. The Pirate rotation has a very good top three in Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Ivan Nova. However, they need another top three quality arm and Nick Kingham can be that arm.
Nick Kingham has the potential to be a top two or three starting pitcher in the Major Leagues. If he can start to reach this potential in 2017 it could go a long way toward helping the Pittsburgh Pirates return to the postseason. It also makes him a breakout candidate for 2017.