Kyle Nicolas was a right-hander the Pittsburgh Pirates irates acquired as part of the Jacob Stallings trade. Nicolas opened the season as part of Altoona’s strong rotation. Although he is still at Double-A, Nicolas might soon get a promotion to Triple-A, giving the Pirates yet another talented arm in the upper-most level of the minor leagues.
Like Mlodzinski, Nicolas’s surface stats don’t tell the whole story. He’s pitched to the tune of a 4.27 ERA, 4.18 FIP, and 1.29 WHIP. His 30.6% strikeout rate is strong, and his 9.7% walk rate is good enough, but a 1.36 HR/9? That’s a bit worrisome, or is it?
Four of the seven total home runs he’s given up this year came in one single outing. Eight of the 22 earned runs he’s allowed also came in that same outing. He didn’t even throw three innings in that one game. Outside his atrocious April 23rd start, Nicolas has a 2.84 ERA and 0.61 HR/9. That one game more than doubled his HR/9.
Nicolas has a mid-90s fastball that averages around 2400 RPM. His slider is also excellent, averaging out in the mid-80s with 2500 RPM of spin. But his curveball and change-up are works in progress, at most. Nicolas has decent stuff, and I’d try and keep him as a starter as long as possible.
Of all the Pirates’ best pitching prospects, Nicolas has the likeliest chance of moving to the bullpen. Not having a third pitch is concerning, especially with so-so command. Many evaluators are understandably wary of Nicolas’ future as a starter. However, as long as he keeps producing as a starting pitching, you might as well ride it out until he proves otherwise.