By Jason Shetler
The Pirates farm system is really starting to bear its fruit now at the big league level, particularly on the pitching front. Jameson Taillon and Chad Kuhl were called up in June, and both have been key contributors in the rotation. Tyler Glasnow and Steven Brault received their call ups in July. Although both aren’t in the rotation now, they each showed glimpses of what they’re capable of moving forward. Trevor Williams should join the Pirates as a September call up based on the solid numbers he’s put up this season with AAA Indianapolis. While 2016 has created excitement with the number of pitching prospects, more help is on the way next season. One prospect in particular will be Nick Kingham.
Kingham was a fourth round selection of the Pirates in the 2010 MLB Draft. His breakout season came in 2013 when he put up a 2.89 ERA with a 1.18 WHIP and a K/9 of 9.0 in 143.1 combined innings for High A Bradenton and AA Altoona. Prior to 2014, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus rated Kingham a Top 100 prospect. He had another good year in 2014, posting a 3.34 ERA in 26 starts combined with Altoona and Indianapolis.
Many baseball publications considered Kingham the Pirates third best pitching prospect behind Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon entering last season. He was projected to join the Bucs at some point in 2015, but experienced elbow discomfort and had to undergo Tommy John surgery.
Last month, Kingham began his rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. He’s made six starts for the GCL Pirates with an ERA of 3.00 and just one walk allowed. On August 15th, he was assigned to Bradenton and pitched five scoreless innings in his most recent outing. During the rehab, Kingham has averaged 93 mph on the fastball, which is certainly encouraging. MLB Pipeline currently has him ranked as the Pirates 11th best prospect in the system. Injuries or struggles are things that always come into play with a pitching staff, so adding Kingham to the Pirates rotation depth next year will be a huge plus.