Hi…My Name Is…
RHP Nick Kingham
6-5 | 227
Born: Houston, Texas
Resides: Las Vegas, Nev.
Jim Lane, former Sports Editor for the Altoona Mirror, catches up with a few players each homestand that we have here in Curve, Pa. His first talk of the season was with our scheduled Opening Day starter Nick Kingham, who came into the season ranked as the No. 5 prospect in the Pirates’ system according to Baseball America.
Nick Kingham is projected as one of the Pirates’ pitching stars of the future. The organization has drafted several pitching prospects in recent years and Kingham is among those at the top of the list.
A right-hander, Kingham has the size (6-5, 227) and is only 22 years old. Ranked as Pittsburgh’s fifth-best prospect by Baseball America, Kingham is considered to have “the best change-up” and “best control” in the system.
Kingham divided the 2013 season between Bradenton (High A) and Altoona (Class AA) and begins 2014 in the Curve’s starting rotation.
“I see myself as a power pitcher, but not overpowering,” Kingham said during a break in spring training at Bradenton, Fla., recently. “I have a decent fastball – about 92 to 94 – but I also like my off-speed stuff.
“I feel it makes my fastball that much better.”
Selected to the Florida State League’s mid-season all-star team, Kingham had a 6-3 record and 3.09 ERA in 13 starts at Bradenton before being promoted to Altoona. He appeared in 14 (12 starts) with the Double-A Curve where he compiled a 3-3 record and 2.70 ERA.
In 143 combined innings between Bradenton and Altoona, Kingham struck out 144 batters and walked only 40.
“The Eastern League is really good,” Kingham said. “There are a lot of nice ballparks. The travel was a little hectic and tiresome at times, but it was good overall and I enjoyed it.”
Kingham didn’t seem to mind the weather in central Pennsylvania, either.
“I grew up in Las Vegas where it was dry and very warm,” Kingham noted. “It was different than here (Florida) and in Altoona where the moisture can get to you.
“(Altoona’s weather) was a little adjustment,” he continued. “I don’t think anybody likes the cold, but you’ve got to remember the other team has to deal with it, too, so you just go out and play your game.”
Born in Houston, Kingham moved to Las Vegas at an early age. He was a standout player at Sierra Vista High School where he earned all-state honors and was ranked among the top players in the nation. He signed a letter of intent with Oregon, but signed with the Pirates when they made him their fourth pick in the 2010 draft.
He made a couple of starts with the Gulf Coast League Pirates in 2010 but had no record. He went 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA in 15 starts for season-season State College (NY-Penn League) in 2011 then was 6-8 (4.39) ERA in 27 starts at West Virginia (low A) in 2012.
You’d have to say that Kingham is making a steady climb toward the majors, but he’s taking everything in stride.
“Honestly, I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I just go out and do whatever I can. I just try to play my game because that’s all you can control. I just let everything take care of itself.
“I liked Altoona,” he said. “It was a new experience, new ballpark and I played with guys I had never played with before so it was cool.”
Kingham said he’s never been anything but a starter and he doesn’t see that role changing. As far as when he’ll make the next jump up the ladder, he says he’s not even thinking about that.
“I don’t know what their (Pirates) plan is,” he said. “I’ll just keep doing what I can do and let my work take care of it. That’s all I can worry about.”
Check out next week’s Player Profile as Jim sits down with first baseman Justin Howard