One of the top pitching prospects in the Pittsburgh Pirates system, Nick Kingham, will be promoted to Indianapolis this week, and will make his debut on Friday, Pirates Prospects has learned. Kingham has a 3.04 ERA in 71 innings this year, with a 54:25 K/BB ratio in Altoona. He was recently ranked our number five prospect in the system, and the third best pitching prospect behind Jameson Taillon and Tyler Glasnow.
At the start of the year, it was expected that Kingham would make the jump to Indianapolis this season. The jump was expected sooner than this. He had a 2.70 ERA in 73.1 innings in Altoona last year, with a 69:30 K/BB ratio. The walks were a bit high, and something that was uncharacteristic for Kingham, who has some of the best control in the system. This year he struggled with walks early in the season, with a 4.4 BB/9 in 43 innings over his first eight starts of the season.
Kingham recently turned things around in his last few starts. Over his last four outings, he combined for a 2.57 ERA in 28 innings, going seven innings each time out. More importantly, he had a 19:4 K/BB ratio in that span, looking more like the pitcher he has been in the past. In the last two outings, he has increased his strikeouts, with 13 in 14 innings. According to John Kokales, Kingham was sitting 93-95 MPH in his last start, touching 97. He struck out six and walked none in seven innings. That type of velocity, combined with Kingham’s usual fastball command, is what makes him a top prospect.
The promotion to Indianapolis comes at a time when the Indy rotation will have most of their starters in Pittsburgh. Brandon Cumpton, Casey Sadler, and Jeff Locke are all currently in Pittsburgh, and Vance Worley could join them on Sunday to replace Francisco Liriano in the rotation. Because of this roster situation, there is no risk of Kingham losing a spot in Triple-A. As for whether he could make the majors this year, it’s not out of the question. Jeff Locke first made the jump to the majors after five starts in Triple-A. Brandon Cumpton only needed 11 starts at the level before first making the jump to Pittsburgh. If Kingham pitches well right away, I could see him making the jump to Pittsburgh this year. It’s more likely that this would come in September, giving him almost three full months in Triple-A.