Pittsburgh Pirates 2014 Top Prospects: #6 – Nick Kingham

The Pirates Prospects 2014 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2014 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find.  While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks.  Be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site.

To recap the countdown so far:

20. Michael De La Cruz, OF
19. JaCoby Jones, OF
18. Barrett Barnes, OF
17. Cody Dickson, LHP
16. Blake Taylor, LHP
15. Joely Rodriguez, LHP
14. Andrew Lambo, OF
13. Stolmy Pimentel, RHP
12. Clay Holmes, RHP
11. Tony Sanchez, C
10. Harold Ramirez, OF
9. Luis Heredia, RHP
8. Josh Bell, OF
7. Reese McGuire, C

We continue the countdown with the number 6 prospect, Nick Kingham.

Nick Kingham

Nick Kingham could be in the majors by the end of the 2014 season.

6. Nick Kingham, RHP

While the Pirates saw Tyler Glasnow breakout overnight, the progression shown by Nick Kingham over the last few years is more typical for a breakout prep pitching prospect. Kingham was signed to an over-slot deal in 2010. At the time he was throwing 88-92 MPH with a tall, sturdy frame and an easy delivery, giving the hope that he could add velocity. That velocity increase came gradually. Kingham added a few MPH each year to his fastball, eventually getting to the point where he was sitting 92-95 MPH and touching as high as 97-98.

Not only does Kingham have good velocity on the fastball, he also has good command and good movement. The pitch is thrown on a downward plane, and he can place it wherever he wants. The combination of velocity, movement, and command makes the fastball a plus offering. He pairs that with a curveball and a changeup, both of which are above-average pitches. The curve could be considered a plus pitch at times. It comes in like a fastball, then has a late drop off the table, leading to missed swings or ground balls. He has had issues commanding the pitch in the past, but he has noted that was mostly due to rust that came from so much focus on his fastball in the lower levels.

The changeup has shown a lot of improvements this year, thrown with fastball arm speed, along with excellent body and life. Scouts who saw him this year gave high grades to the pitch, and at some points the changeup had passed the curveball in quality.

The Pirates could start Kingham back in Altoona in 2014, despite his strong results at the level. That would mostly be due to the immediate need for starting depth in Triple-A. He should make it to Indianapolis by the second half of the season, and could arrive in Pittsburgh by September. Kingham currently profiles as a strong number three who can throw 200 innings per year due to his strong frame. He has shown improvements each year, so it wouldn’t be out of the question to see him continue to develop and become a number two starter in the majors. If he doesn’t arrive in 2014, then it’s very likely that he could join the major league rotation at some point during the 2015 season, likely slotting in behind Gerrit Cole, Jameson Taillon, and Tyler Glasnow.

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Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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