Tuesday, January 17, 2012

#10 Prospect - Nick Kingham

My #10 prospect, Nick Kingham, is yet another pitcher.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, as a team can never have enough pitching prospects.  Kingham is another young kid.  In fact, Kingham, who the Pirates picked up in the 2010 draft, is the second youngest player I've profiled, only older than Clay Holmes.  Kingham was the Pirates 4th round pick in 2010 and he ended up receiving the third biggest bonus in the class, although it was only 485,000 dollars.

Kingham was well-regarded going into the draft with Baseball America rating him as their 186th best draft prospect and commenting "[Kingham] could go as high as the second round."  Kingham lasted an extra two rounds and the Pirates were able to buy him out of his commitment to Oregon.  Kingham signed "early" enough in the summer to get into two GCL games where he pitched a total of 3 innings.  Kingham struck out two batters, walked none, and gave up three hits, starting his pro career off well.  The next year, Kingham started out at State College, where he had an excellent year.  In 71 innings, Kingham posted a very good 2.15 ERA, although his FIP was 3.51.  Still, both numbers were more than encouraging.  On the peripheral side of things, Kingham showed good control, only walking 1.9 batters per 9 innings.  He only struck out 6 batters per 9 innings, but that's not a bad number, at least in my mind, for such a young kid who was in "fastball school" last year. Kingham also showed a very good groundball/flyball ratio at 1.62

Kingham is at such a low level that numbers mean substantially less than a scouting report.  Kingham's scouting report last year is exciting, which his numbers only serve to support and enhance.  Kingham stands at an impressive 6'5 and only weighed 210 lbs at the time of the draft.  His fastball already sat in the low 90's and touched 93, which is good velocity for projectable high school senior.  Kingham has room to add muscle - in fact, he has added 10 pounds of muscle since the draft - that should improve his fastball velocity.  In fact, Kingham saw a velocity increase last year, touching 94 and 95 at times.  As he continues to add strength, Kingham could sit in the mid 90's.

Kingham also has solid secondaries.  His best secondary is his changeup, a rarity for a high school pitcher.  The pitch was already fringe-average when Kingham was a a senior and it could become a plus pitch with proper development.  Kingham also shows signs that he can spin a curveball, but he will need to tighten up the pitch, something he made small strides to do this past year.  Kingham is obviously years away from making the big leagues, but he has a very high ceiling and that makes him my #10 pirates prospect.

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