By Jason Shetler
In the 2010 MLB Draft, the Pirates selected Jameson Taillon out of high school with their first round pick (#2 overall). Taillon wasn’t the only notable prep pitcher that the Bucs took in that year’s draft, as they chose another high upside arm in Nick Kingham with their fourth round selection.
During the 2011 season, Kingham pitched for the State College Spikes, the Pirates former short season affiliate, and performed well, as he posted a 2.15 ERA. His first full season for the West Virginia Power in 2012 went so-so, posting an ERA of 4.39. Kingham began 2013 with the Bradenton Marauders, and was promoted to the Altoona Curve in June. Combined with both affiliates, he put up a 2.89 ERA. Kingham returned to Altoona to begin the 2014 season, and just like 2013, he was given a June promotion to AAA for the Indianapolis Indians. His ERA combined with Altoona and Indianapolis that year was 3.34.
Entering 2015, Kingham was considered by most baseball publications as the third best Pirates pitching prospect in the organization behind Tyler Glasnow and Jameson Taillon. The plan was for Kingham to return to Indianapolis, and be called up to the Pirates midseason. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case, as he dealt with elbow discomfort during an outing in May. It was later revealed that Kingham would need Tommy John surgery, effectively ending his 2015 season. As expected, he spent most of 2016 rehabbing his way back.
Despite missing a good bit of time recovering from the injury, Kingham was still a Top 10 Pirates prospect going into 2017, ranking #9 according to MLB Pipeline. He returned to Indianapolis, which of course is where he last pitched at prior to having Tommy John. Kingham currently has an ERA of 4.00, along with a 3.86 Fielding Independent Pitching and a .268 batting average against. His last three starts in particular have been outstanding, allowing just two earned runs in 21.2 innings pitched. Kingham is expected to join the Pirates as a September call up. While it’s undoubtedly been a long journey to the big leagues for Kingham, his light at the end of the tunnel is drawing closer.