Pirate prospect to watch in 2018: Nick Kingham

(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images)
(Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images) /

A former top-100 pitching prospect that is on his way back from Tommy John Surgery is a Pirate prospect to watch in 2018

During the 2017 season nine players made their Major League debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 2018, barring any type of setback, right-handed starting pitcher Nick Kingham will be one of the players making their Major League debut.

Prior to having Tommy John Surgery after his first six starts at Triple-A in 2015, Nick Kingham was a top-100 prospect. Kingham appeared to be on his way to making his Major League debut at some point in 2015, however, that is when the injury bug began to intervene.

Following the surgery, Nick Kingham made just 10 starts in 2016. Six came in the Gulf Coast League, two were at High-A, and the other two came for the Double-A Altoona Curve.

Minus one start at High-A, Nick Kingham spent the entirety of 2017 pitching for the Triple-A Indianapolis Indians. Kingham pitched in 20 games, 19 of which were starts, logging 113 1/3 innings for the Indians.

In those 113 1/3 innings pitched Kingham allowed eight home runs, he showed the great control he has had throughout his minor league career averaging 2.30 BB/9, and he averaged 7.39 K/9. This led to Kingham owning a 4.13 ERA and a healthy 3.59 FIP at Triple-A.

Toward the end of last season there was a lot of speculation that Nick Kingham might be a September call-up. However, due to the Pirates wanting to watch his workload, this did not happen.

Additionally, there were questions about Kingham and minor league options for 2018. Well, due to his injuries in the past, he was granted a fourth option year. Due to this, he can begin the 2018 season back at Triple-A. Had he not been granted this then he would have had to start the season on the Major League roster, or the Pirates would have had to risk losing him on waivers ala Alen Hanson in 2017.

Nick Kingham’s best pitch is his curveball. He also throws a plus changeup that helps him to keep left-handed hitters off balance in the batter’s box. Kingham has an easy delivery that he can be duplicated rather effortlessly, this is a big reason he is a strong strike thrower and has great control.

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It has been a long road for Nick Kingham. That road, however, is close to reaching the Major Leagues. Barring any sort of major setbacks, Kingham will make his Major League debut in 2018 and he has all the tools needed to become a mainstay in the Pirate rotation for a long time.