Prospect Watch: Nick Kingham Puts Together Strong Back-to-Back Starts

P2 Top 30

A look at how the current top 30 prospects did today. If a player is in the majors for an extended time (Max Moroff), or loses his prospect eligibility, he will be removed from this list. Everyone below him will be shifted up a spot, and a new player will be added to the bottom of the list. If a player is out for the season, he will be removed and everyone below him will move up a spot. Removing these guys doesn’t mean they have lost prospect status. It is just an attempt to get more active prospects on the list. Rankings are from the 2017 Mid-Season Update, and links on each name go to their Pirates Prospects player pages.

1. Mitch Keller, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] include_once (‘./p2-stats/stats_functions.php’);
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2. Austin Meadows, CF, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(640457,’B’,’20170729′);
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3. Shane Baz, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(669358,’P’,’20170729′);
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4. Cole Tucker, SS, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(657061,’B’,’20170729′);
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5. Kevin Newman, SS, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(621028,’B’,’20170729′);
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6. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B, Bradenton -[insert_php] display_top30(663647,’B’,’20170729′);
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7. Will Craig, 3B, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(643269,’B’,’20170729′);
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8. Elias Diaz, C, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(553869,’B’,’20170729′);
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9. Taylor Hearn, LHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(621368,’P’,’20170729′);
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10. Gage Hinsz, RHP, Bradenton – [insert_php] display_top30(656543,’P’,’20170729′);
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11. Calvin Mitchell, OF, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(668751,’B’,’20170729′);
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12. Braeden Ogle, LHP, Bristol – [insert_php] display_top30(669180,’P’,’20170729′);
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13Edgar Santana, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(650828,’P’,’20170729′);
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14. Kevin Kramer, 2B, Altoona -[insert_php] display_top30(596012,’B’,’20170729′);
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15. Steven Brault, LHP, Indianapolis– [insert_php] display_top30(643230,’P’,’20170729′);
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16. Clay Holmes, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(605280,’P’,’20170729′);
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17. Jordan Luplow, LF, Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(656669,’B’,’20170729′);
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18. Luis Escobar, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650813,’P’,’20170729′);
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19. Max Kranick, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(668820,’P’,’20170729′);
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20. Steven Jennings, RHP, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(675651,’P’,’20170729′);
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21. Adrian Valerio, SS, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(650832,’B’,’20170729′);
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22. Nick Kingham, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(592468,’P’,’20170729′);
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23. Conner Uselton, OF, GCL Pirates – Disabled List

24. Dovydas Neverauskas, RHP, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(596720,’P’,’20170729′);
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25. Eric Wood, 3B, Indianapolis – [insert_php] display_top30(607780,’B’,’20170729′);
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26. Eduardo Vera, RHP, West Virginia – [insert_php] display_top30(622747,’P’,’20170729′);
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27. Logan Hill, LF, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(664930,’B’,’20170729′);
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28. Tyler Eppler, RHP, Indianapolis -[insert_php] display_top30(621169,’P’,’20170729′);
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29. Lolo Sanchez, CF, GCL Pirates – [insert_php] display_top30(665975,’B’,’20170729′);
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30. Dario Agrazal, RHP, Altoona – [insert_php] display_top30(642607,’P’,’20170729′);
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P2 Top Performers

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Prospect-Watch-Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS — Gift Ngoepe was in the midst of the worst hitting month of his professional career.

He tried turning that around in one game.

And he also stayed true to his roots, making a game-saving defensive play in the ninth inning.

Ngoepe hit a triple and home run in his first two at-bats in Indianapolis’ 5-3 win over Pawtucket on Saturday.

“Just the fact that he had a couple of hits and a smile on his face again,” Indianapolis manager Andy Barkett said. “He got a little confidence back in him and hopefully that’s a step in the right direction and he can maintain that.”

Pawtucket loaded the bases in the ninth inning and hit a ball up the middle, but Ngoepe ranged over from shortstop to throw the runner out to end the game.

“It saved the game,” Barkett said. “If he doesn’t make that play, we’re still playing right now. Not many in all of baseball make that play.”

Nick Kingham didn’t need much offense behind him, throwing his second consecutive solid start of the week. He allowed one earned on eight hits over seven inning, walking none.

His pitching line was almost identical as the one in his previous start on Monday, with the only difference being one less strikeout.

But one of the most important parts of his last two pitching lines: no walks. That’s due to good fastball command, which opens up other aspects of his game.

“Getting ahead of hitters with my fastball opened up everything else,” Kingham said. “Later on in the game I could even throw off-speed first-pitch to some people. I think establishing the fastball on both sides of the plate early on kind of allowed me to stick to my game plan as the game went on.”

Kingham had his worst start of the season on July 19 at Durham, allowing eight runs on seven hits and four walks.

He rebounded on Monday by throwing his first seven-inning outing of the week. The improvement was simply based on a better mentality, throwing his fastball with more confidence.

That mentality carried over against Pawtucket and Kingham is starting to put things together in his first full season back after having Tommy John surgery.

“It was another step in the right direction,” Barkett said. “A great job for him to be able to come back out and repeat what he did last time out. That’s a good step in the right direction that he was able to go out there and do that again.”

Kingham allowed a pair of singles to open the game, but retired the next eight batters he faced. Pawtucket scored a run in the fourth inning, allowing two singles and a double.

Indianapolis scored one run in each of the first five innings. Joey Terdoslavich had an RBI single in the first inning; Ngoepe had an RBI triple in the second; Danny Ortiz hit a solo homer in the third; and Ngoepe hit a solo homer in the fourth.

Edwin Espinal had an RBI single back up the middle in the fifth inning, for his first Triple-A hit. He added a single in the eighth inning.

Jacob Stallings threw out a runner trying to steal third base for the second consecutive night.

Left fielder Christopher Bostick made a nice diving catch in the eighth inning, helping out reliever Dan Runzler who had given up three consecutive doubles. – Brian Peloza

Prospect-Watch-Altoona-Curve

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ALTOONA, Pa. – Game One Recap: In his first game for the Curve, Jordan George went 2-for-3 with a home run and a double, both of the two-RBI variety. The fourth inning home run was from the right side, where George was only hitting .186 with one home run (70 ABs) for the Marauders this season. It was his first hit in his second Double-A at-bat. One inning later, George came up with two one and two outs, and he delivered a deep fly ball double from the left side of the plate, scoring both runners.

Cole Tucker added two hits and a walk, including a single to right field in his first home at-bat for the Curve. Anderson Feliz tripled and had a two-RBI single for two hits in the game, and Jerrick Suiter singled twice with a walk.

JT Brubaker started the first game of the doubleheader, and he pitches after back-to-back games of allowing just one earned run in each start. Tonight is one of those nights where the box line really doesn’t reflect the quality of the outing, as he allowed four runs (two earned) in five innings; however, Brubaker showed some good stuff and threw well in the start.

Although Brubaker allowed nine hits, many of them were grounders that found holes or easy liners in front of his outfielders. Countless times a ground ball was just out of the reach of Cole Tucker or Jordan George at first base. Errors didn’t help, either, as the Curve defense had three of them.

Brubaker’s night really compounded on one swing in the fourth inning, when Trenton’s speedy lead-off hitter Jorge Mateo drilled one to left field with two runners on. He went towards third on a throw that went home, and a throw to third sailed over the head of Anderson Feliz, allowing Mateo to come around on a Little League homer.

His pitch count rose quickly because of the myriad of hits, but Brubaker didn’t walk a batter for the third time during a start this season. In the previous two starts where he did not allow a walk, he threw 13 scoreless innings. His fastball had good life, and his breaking ball fooled a few batters for strikeouts. Ultimately, I would say that Brubaker has a lot of good to take out of this start.

The Curve went down 4-0 in the fourth inning before George’s homer. Then a manufactured run to cut the deficit to one run. They took a 5-4 lead in the fifth after George’s double. With the one run lead, Sean Keselica allowed a lead-off home run in the sixth before giving up four singles and a walk, giving Trenton a 7-5 lead. The Curve battled back to tie the game in the bottom of the inning on four singles.

Going into extras (7 inning game), Trenton’s Ryan McBroom sent a long homer over the center field wall off of Tate Scioneaux to seal the deal in Game One.

The Curve had plenty of opportunities to win this game, but costly errors, shoddy defending, and a pick-off on the bases just seemed to keep putting them behind the eight ball. More to come after Game Two of the doubleheader. –Sean McCool

GAME TWO: In what felt like a very important game for the Curve to win based on where they are in the standings, Altoona broke out for five runs with two outs in the fourth inning to grab control of the second game tonight, ultimately winning by the score of 5-1.

With two outs in the inning, Jordan George continued to build upon his debut night with a long double to the right field wall. Michael Suchy walked before Elvis Escobar snuck a grounder through the right side. George went sent home and looked to be dead in the water, but he slid underneath the tag of Trenton catcher Francisco Diaz. Diaz proceeded to slam his helmet into the ground in a fit of rage and was ejected, but it didn’t matter as the Curve were on the board.

After the ejection, the floodgates opened. Cole Tucker sped down the first base line to beat out an infield single, and two runs came in to score on the play (without it leaving the infield). After Tucker stole second, Pablo Reyes singled to left to score another run. Then Reyes stole second before scoring on an Anderson Feliz single.

Essentially, the Curve had to play a little bit of small ball tonight.

“That’s the way our roster is right now,” Ryan said. “We’re going to have to small ball some guys. We don’t have a guy that’s going to hit 30. We want to send five guys up there each inning, and the odds are that you’re going to score a run. Whether it’s a lead-off hit then bunt him over, a hit and run, a pressure package on the bases, that’s what we’re going to try to do.”

The five runs were enough for the Curve in the late game, mostly because of the performance of starter Cody Dickson.

Dickson pitched five strong innings after pitching an inning of relief only two days ago. The powerful Trenton lineup was only able to produce three hits against the lefty, with one of them being a solo home run in the fifth inning.

Ultimately, it was a very typical Cody Dickson performance with a little bit of everything except runs. He walked three batters, hit one, and struggled with control at times, but he was effective and struck out four batters. The homer was the only extra base hit against him.

“He gave us five quality innings,” Ryan said. “That’s what we needed for the second game.”

The key to the Curve putting up a crooked number in that fourth inning was the speed of Cole Tucker. There was no way he should’ve beaten out the throw to first on his infield grounder, but he hustled hard down the line and barely beat the throw. He was then able to score during the next at-bat because of his wheels again, as he took off right away and claimed second base.

“He’s got some long legs and big strides,” Ryan said about his infield single. “It was unbelievable hustle.”

After the game, Ryan had some great things to say about Jordan George’s debut.

“He was very patient at the plate and had great balance,” Ryan said. “He put good swings on the ball from both sides and didn’t miss, and he did a great job getting into hitter’s counts. I thought it was a great day for him.” –Sean McCool

Prospect-Watch-Bradenton

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Bradenton got crushed on Saturday night, losing 12-3 to Palm Beach. Pedro Vasquez came into the day with the second best ERA in the league and third best WHIP. Both numbers took a major hit during his worst start of the season. He allowed nine earned runs on nine hits and three walks in 5.1 innings. For a little perspective on how bad this game is compared to the rest of his season, Vasquez’s two worst starts combined prior to tonight included him allowing a total of seven runs over 11 innings. In other words, he has had a great run up until tonight. His ERA went from 2.43 to 3.04 in this game.

The Marauders led this game 3-1 after two innings before everything fell apart. Every player in the lineup except Ke’Bryan Hayes contributed one hit. Casey Hughston’s 15th double was the only extra-base hit and it drove in the first run. A two-run single by Alfredo Reyes followed and scored the final runs for Bradenton. The team failed to draw a single walk, so no one reached base more than once. Mitchell Tolman picked up his eighth stolen base.

Prospect-Watch-WV-Power

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West Virginia gave a lackluster effort in a game one loss to Hagerstown. The lineup had five hits, going 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and leaving five runners on base. James Marvel pitched five innings, allowing all three runs in the 3-0 loss, though only one run was earned. Marvel gave up five hits and three walks, while striking out five batters. He had a 5:1 GO/AO ratio and threw 52 of his 90 pitches for strikes. He now has a 3.91 ERA in 89.2 innings.

Ronny Agustin pitched the sixth (final) inning and struck out two batters. He has had a couple rough outings, but has otherwise looked very strong since joining West Virginia in mid-June. He now has 29 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. The southpaw Agustin gets great results due to a plus curveball, with late movement, which is very tough on lefties.

Game Two Recap: Matt Anderson hasn’t started since June 8th, but he had a terrific spot start in game two, leading the Power to a 4-1 victory. He went five innings on only 60 pitches, giving up one unearned run on one hit and one walk, with seven strikeouts. The only blemish to the line came on his own error. Jordan Jess followed him and had four strikeouts in his two shutout innings, giving West Virginia 11 strikeouts in the seven inning game.

Albert Baur hit two doubles, giving him 18 on the season. He scored a run and picked up an RBI. Carlos Munoz hit his 22nd double. Ryan Nagle had two hits, a run scored and an RBI. Clark Eagan had a single, RBI and run scored. Garrett Brown scored a run and stole his eighth base of the season.

Prospect-Watch-Morgantown

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Morgantown lost 3-1 in a game where unearned runs proved to be the difference. Sergio Cubilete started and gave up all three Auburn runs in his four innings. After allowing an earned run in the second inning, he was both hurt and helped by his defense in the fourth inning. An error led to two unearned runs in the inning, but both Jared Oliva and Chris Sharpe picked up outfield assists to limit the damage.

Yoandy Fernandez struck out four batters in his two shutout innings. He now has 33 strikeouts in 24 innings. Blake Weiman threw a scoreless seventh.

Matt Seelinger pitched the eighth and extended his scoreless streak to 13 innings to begin his career. We wrote about him earlier today, noting how he was having his success up to this point as a late round draft pick.

The Black Bears got their only run in the eighth inning. Raul Siri reached on a two-out error, then scored on a Jared Oliva single. Lucas Tancas doubled to put two runners in scoring position, but Jonathan Schwind couldn’t come through in a big spot. Oliva also tripled earlier in the game.

Prospect-Watch-Bristol
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Bristol lost game one of a doubleheader on Saturday by a 6-4 score. They dropped to 8-28 on the season and have now lost ten straight games. They were 8-18 when this streak started, so it’s not a complete surprise they haven’t been good. On most nights, it’s the defense that costs them and this game had three errors in the first two innings. Domingo Robles was the starter who took the brunt of those miscues, but he managed to stay in there for five innings. He allowed six runs (four earned) on eight hits and one walk, needing 88 pitches to get through his night, though the errors obviously cost him a lot of extra pitches.

Alex Manasa, the 11th round pick, followed Robles and did the best thing possible. He racked up strikeouts so he didn’t have to worry about the play behind him. He had five strikeouts in two scoreless innings.

Edison Lantigua had a walk in three trips to the plate. Yondry Contreras went 0-for-3, and Paul Brands hit a two-run homer, his third of the season.

Game Two Recap: Bristol won! I could leave it at that for the description because there really isn’t much exciting to talk about, but the Pirates won 7-3 to break their ten-game losing streak.

Evan Piechota started and allowed two runs over three innings. Four relievers went an inning each and the only run to score off of them was unearned. Mason Ward struck out all three batters he faced.

Yondry Contreras had a game where he showed off the raw tools you want to see from the Pirates top signing during the 2014 International signing period. He had a single, walk, stolen base and an outfield assist. The Pirates have pushed the 19-year-old center fielder up a level each year despite the fact he could have repeated either of the previous two levels.

Edison Lantigua had a single and a run scored. Jason Delay had two hits and drove in two runs.

Prospect-Watch-GCL

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The GCL Pirates lost 6-4 to Tigers East on Saturday morning. The Pirates got out to a quick lead in this one, as a lead-off single by Lolo Sanchez, was followed three batters later by a two-out triple from Mikell Granberry. Austin Shields was on the mound for the Pirates and he gave up an RBI double in the first inning, then a lead-off homer in the second to give the Tigers East the lead.

In the third frame, Shields gave up a single, followed by a walk, sacrifice bunt and an RBI ground out for his third run in three innings. He would strand a runner on third base in the fourth inning, his last inning of work. Shields gave up four hits and three walks, with two strikeouts and a 6:2 GO/AO ratio.

The Pirates tied the game in the fifth on a two-run homer from Lolo Sanchez, his second home run of the season. Claudio Scotti took the loss by allowing two runs in the seventh and Eumir Sepulveda gave up a run in the eighth. The Pirates scored a run in the eight on an error from the catcher, who was trying to gun down a runner at second base, but threw the ball wild and allowed Rodolfo Castro to trot in from third base.

Cristopher Perez and Eddy Vizcaino each had two hits. Jeremais Portorreal had a tough day after collecting three hits off of the bench on Friday. He went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts on Saturday. Mason Martin singled as a pinch-hitter in the ninth. Calvin Mitchell had the day off. Austin Meadows was scheduled off today. He will likely play five innings on Monday.

Prospect-Watch-DSL

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The DSL Pirates won 5-2 over the Indians on Saturday morning. The Pirates just recently started letting DSL/GCL pitchers go over five innings for the first time in eight years. That led to the best DSL outing we have seen in a very long time, as Jose Marcano tossed six shutout innings today. He gave up four hits and one walk, with four strikeouts and a 7:3 GO/AO ratio.

The Indians actually led this game for a short time. Right after Marcano left, Saul de la Cruz allowed two runs (one earned) in the seventh inning to give the Indians a 2-0 lead. The Pirates stormed back in the bottom of the seventh with all five of their runs on the day. The inning included three walks and an error, as well as RBI singles from Emison Soto and Jean Eusebio, capped off by a two-run double by Pedro Castillo.

Sherten Apostel walked three times in this game, giving him 34 walks on the season, which has him two behind Francisco Acuna for the team lead. Acuna stole two bases in this game, giving him 15 steals on the season.

  • John: Sherten Apostel seems to have the type of bat the Pirates would like to see at 3B, but it is obvious he is getting pitched around on a regular basis – probably the 20 EBH out of 40 hits including 6 HR. Is it possible to move him to the GCL for their remaining 30 games? They really do not have a 3B, and since the kid is from Curacao, he’ll be on the road no matter where he plays.

    • Sounds like the right thing to do. to bad it won’t happen. they will leave him in the DSL where no one seems to want to pitch to him and as a result he will start swinging at anything near the plate and his average will plummet.

  • BuccosFanStuckinMD
    July 29, 2017 10:54 pm

    Time to sell Neal – see what you can get for Freese, Watson, Nova, Cervelli, and Jaso….this team is dead and going nowhere…cannot even beat the worst teams in the NL West…

    • Do you have a robo function that posts the exact same thing every day?

      • BuccosFanStuckinMD
        July 29, 2017 11:27 pm

        Are you for real? Show me where I posted anything remotely like the above in the past week? If you can’t, keep your thoughts to yourself…they have zero value

    • I like your thoughts on selling. But I would like to see them move Cole, McCutchen and Cervelli. With Cole you could restock your minor league system, better to deal him while he has value to either the Dodgers, Astros or anybody else that has a deep minor league system. Might as well deal Cole, because your not going to win a WS with him and your going to lose im to Free Agency.I doubt they can move Cervelli because of his past injuries but Diaz needs to be the everyday catcher, he turns 27 in November.

      • problem with selling is that NH would have to go after prospects with upside and talent. instead of prospects with ‘years of control’. NH hasn’t shown the best ability to evaluate minor league talent over the years. it’s troublesome to say the least.

  • Getting no hit last time I looked. Better put everyone on the trading block and build for the future.

    • If the Pirates hope to do something different in 2018, they can start by promoting Joey Cora and let him have the benefit of the last 2 months of 2017.

  • piraterican21
    July 29, 2017 6:58 pm

    Do you think that Kingham transition to the pen after this start? He is out of option and right he seem to have a very low chance to cracked the Pirates rotation next year!

    • John Dreker
      July 29, 2017 7:15 pm

      Why limit his innings? He could go to the bullpen in September for the Pirates and be used in low-leverage situations, then go bullpen in Spring Training if that’s what they want for him. He may also start during ST so he is available for long relief

    • Kingham is still part of my dream rotation. Cole, Tallion, Glasnow, Kingham, and Allie. Oh wait, might have to change that last one.

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