BRADENTON, Fla. – Nick Kingham made his second official rehab start today, going four innings for the first time in his build up. He only threw 37 pitches, with 26 strikes, as the focus today was just on ups and downs, and not on getting his pitch count up. The next time out, he will throw four innings again, but might finish off in the bullpen if he’s just as efficient, in order to get his workload up. That start is expected to be next Tuesday.
Kingham didn’t give up any walks or hits until the fourth inning today. He then gave up two hits in the fourth, leading to his only run of the day. He didn’t issue a walk, and struck out two. Despite the outing, Kingham didn’t like where his fastball was located, noting he was up in the zone for the second straight outing.
“Again, the ball was up in the zone,” Kingham said. “That’s what I’m trying to really work on. Today I got away with a lot of stuff. Off-speed was good. Curveball, I fell in love with it today. Probably threw it more often than I should have. Changeup felt good, down in the zone. I liked the action on it. Just fastball, trying to work in the bottom of the zone, that’s my only concern for today.”
The velocity today touched 92-93 MPH, after sitting mostly 90-91 and touching 92 the last time out. He saw that velocity drop to 89-90, touching 91 in the fourth inning. The velocity is starting to creep up a bit, and Kingham expects that to continue as he builds up arm strength.
“I think every game it’s a new level,” Kingham said. “It’s like I get a little bit more tired and sore and fatigued, and the same amount of days turn around and pitch again. So it’s always like I’m pushing a little bit further, and I haven’t really reached my full strength yet. I’m kind of progressing slowly, but the strength will come. The endurance is getting there, that’s what we’re building, and the strength will come up behind it. That’s what I’m really trying to bank on right now.”
Kingham will make another four inning start next week, and will follow that with two more five inning outings in the GCL. From there, he expects to go to Bradenton for a few starts. Last week he told me he didn’t expect to reach Indianapolis this year. Today he said he does expect to pitch through the end of the season, although he’s going to be limited to five innings maximum the rest of the way.
“I think five is the most I’ll go this year,” Kingham said. “Depending on my pitch count, if it’s in the 40s through five, I might be able to go another one. But I think five is going to be my limit this year.”
This is the same approach the Pirates took with Clay Holmes last year, who didn’t go beyond five innings in his return from Tommy John. Holmes has been able to extend beyond that this year, with one break so far in the middle of the season for rest. Expect Kingham to take the same approach next year. He could be an option for the Pirates, just like Taillon was this year, but that will definitely have to wait until next year.
Jacob Taylor Close to a Return
In other Tommy John recovery news, the Pirates’ 2015 fourth round pick Jacob Taylor is three weeks away from pitching in a game in the GCL. Taylor signed for an $700,000 over-slot bonus out of the JuCo ranks last year, but only made one start before going down with his injury. I talked to him briefly today, and he said he expects to stay in the GCL to build up, and if he’s not able to build up to five innings, he will continue pitching during the Fall Instructional Leagues.
Tim started Pirates Prospects in 2009 from his home in Virginia, which was 40 minutes from where Pedro Alvarez made his pro debut in Lynchburg. That year, the Lynchburg Hillcats won the Carolina League championship, and Pirates Prospects was born from Tim's reporting along the way. The site has grown over the years to include many more writers, and Tim has gone on to become a credentialed MLB reporter, producing Pirates Prospects each year, and will publish his 11th Prospect Guide this offseason. He has also served as the Pittsburgh Pirates correspondent for Baseball America since 2019. Behind the scenes, Tim is an avid music lover, and most of the money he gets paid to run this site goes to vinyl records.
I’ve sent you two emails. Please respond.
I’ve got a bunch of emails I’ve been going through, plus the game coverage today. I should be finished with emails tonight.
In other news, Jameson Taillon has been identified as the chief suspect in a 1971 airplane hijacking.
Matthew you keep doing stuff like this you will be a pariah on this site like me! Very good work Mo Cara!
Think we need real games again.
Why should Kingham be any different than our MLB starters???
What do you mean?
It took me a moment, too, but I think he’s picking on them for never getting out of the 5th inning this year.
Good for Kingham.
I don’t know if AFL is in the plans. If it is, hopefully he builds up a little more there, reestablishes himself over the first few months of next season, and is a viable option after the 2017 S2 date.