Born: November 8, 1991
Height: 6′ 5″
Weight: 210
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 4th Round, 117th Overall, 2010
How Acquired: Draft
High School: Sierra Vista HS (Las Vegas, NV)
Agent: Dan Evans/Donn Parris, West Coast Sports Management


Interview with 4th Round Pick Nick Kingham


The Pirates continued to go heavily for prep pitchers in the early part of their 2010 draft by taking Kingham. Baseball America rated him 186th overall, while PGCrosschecker ranked him 125th. According to BA, he threw his fastball in the upper-80s to low-90s, hitting as high as 94, with good movement. His size gives him very good projection. His change could become above-average, but his curve needs work. Kingham may have slipped under the radar screen just a little, because he wasn’t able to play in his junior year due to a transfer, and most scouting attention in Nevada in 2010 focused on Bryce Harper. He committed to Oregon, but signed about a week and a half before the deadline.

R:  0-0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 IP, 0.0 BB/9, 6.0 K/9

Made a couple brief appearances in the GCL in 2010.

A-:  6-2-0, 2.15 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 71 IP, 1.9 BB/9, 6.0 K/9 

Pitched in the State College rotation and had a very encouraging season.  Opponents hit .238 against him and he walked very few.  His K rate was on the low side.  It says something that he won six games; the Pirates monitor workloads for high school pitchers closely at the lower levels and they often don’t last five innings.  In his last ten starts he pitched at least five innings each time and never allowed more than one run.  His fastball ranged from 89-94.  BA ranked him the league’s 9th best prospect.

A:  6-8-0, 4.39 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 127.0 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 8.3 K/9

Kingham pitched well in training camp, with his velocity sitting around 92-93, and seemed to be a breakout candidate going into 2012.  Instead, he had a difficult season in the West Virginia rotation.  He maintained his velocity well, often hitting 95, but he tended to have blowups where he couldn’t get out of an inning.  He was up and down much of the season.  He started off with an 8.59 ERA in April, then pitched well in May, with an ERA of 2.84.  He slumped again in June to 6.28.  Overall, though, he improved during the season.  His ERA was 5.22 in the first half and 3.69 in the second half.  It was 1.68 in his last nine starts.  His peripheral numbers for the season–WHIP, walk rate and K rate–were actually good, although he had some trouble with gopher balls, allowing 15.  A lot of his trouble may simply have been the need to learn to pitch out of trouble, possibly by mixing up his pitches more.

A+:  6-3-0, 3.09 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 70.0 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 9.6 K/9
AA:  3-3-0, 2.70 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 73.1 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 8.5 K/9

The breakout that Kingham seemed ready for in 2012 happened in 2013.  He spent the first half in Bradenton and dominated much of the time, to a greater extent than the ERA indicates.  His stuff continued to improve, with his fastball getting into the mid-90s some of the time.  His curve is a swing-and-miss pitch and he continued to improve his change.  He fanned well over a batter an inning and held opponents to .212 average.  The Pirates moved Kingham up to Altoona at mid-season and, despite the lower ERA, he found AA a little more of a challenge.  He mostly pitched well, but occasionally had control problems.  On the plus side, he allowed only one HR in AA.  For the season, he had only a mild platoon split, allowing a .681 OPS to left-handed hitters and .613 to right-handed hitters.

AA:  1-7-0, 3.04 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 71.0 IP, 3.2 BB/9, 6.8 K/9
AAA:  5-4-0, 3.58 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 88.0 IP, 2.8 BB/9, 6.6 K/9

Kingham had a good, if somewhat uneven, season.  He started off at Altoona and struggled with his control at times.  He also saw his K rate drop some.  In June, the Pirates promoted him to Indianapolis and he dominated there initially, allowing just one earned run in his first four starts.  He was up and down in his last ten.  Overall, he pitched better in AAA than AA.  He allowed hitters a line of 234/295/347 for the season.  He was a little better against right-handed than left-handed hitters, holding the former to a .601 OPS and the latter to .686.

AAA:  1-2-0, 4.31 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 31.1 IP, 2.0 BB/9, 9.2 K/9

Kingham was added to the 40-man roster in the fall.  He began the season in AAA with the expectation of reaching Pittsburgh at some point.  His pitching in the early season was uneven, although he was striking out a lot more hitters.  In mid-May, though, Kingham left a start with elbow pain and, late in the month, had Tommy John surgery, ending his season.

The Pirates bring pitchers back from issues like Tommy John surgery very slowly.  Theoretically, if there are no setbacks, Kingham should be pitching before mid-season in 2016.  Realistically, he may not return to full duty until late in the season.  His arrival date in the majors now might not be until 2017.

Baseball Reference–Minors

2010 HS
2016: Major League minimum
Signing Bonus: $480,000
MiLB Debut: 2010
MLB Debut: N/A
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2020
Rule 5 Eligible: N/A
Added to 40-Man: 11/20/2014
Options Remaining: 2 (USED:  2015)
MLB Service Time: 0.000
June 8, 2010: Drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round, 117th overall pick; signed on August 4.
November 20, 2014: Contract purchased by the Pittsburgh Pirates.