Stockpiling quality young pitching is always a priority for a losing team trying to change their fortunes and culture. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who last had a winning season in 1992, have recently drafted highly touted arms like Jameson Taillon and Gerrit Cole to jumpstart their rebuilding process. However, the team is also high on Nick Kingham, another recent draftee, who they believe has a bright future in Pittsburgh.
Kingham, a tall right-handed starter, was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 MLB Draft out of high school in Las Vegas. According to Pirates prospect site Buried Treasure, Kingham was planning to attend the University of Oregon, but was convinced to turn pro when Pittsburgh offered him a generous signing bonus.
About to turn 21 later this week, Kingham possesses a low-nineties fastball and promising secondary pitches. He impressed in his first two professional seasons in short-season ball, combining for a 2.07 ERA. This past year he made 27 starts in Class-A, and held his own, posting a 6-8 record and 4.39 ERA, while striking out nearly a batter an inning.
Last year I had a chance to interview Kingham and get to know the up-and-coming Pirates prospect a little better.
How did you first become interested in baseball? My parents; my Dad grew up playing high school ball. He never played college, but he got me my first interest in it. I started playing it and stuck with it.
Did you have a favorite team or player when you were growing up?
Nope. No favorite team and no favorite player. I was just a fan of the game.
Do you model yourself after any current player?
(Josh) Beckett would be the closest now. I mean it is who I like the most now, but it is pretty hard to emulate somebody that great. I try.
How did you know the Pirates were interested in drafting you?
My scout called me when I was at work with my Dad. He called to tell me that they had drafted me and that they would be in touch. I heard from them two weeks later.
After you signed, did you do anything special for yourself or your family?
We had a few people over two nights before I left, but nothing too special.
What type of pitches do you throw?
Just a fastball, curve and change right now. The fastball is definitely the most important pitch. It’s sitting 91, 92, but reaching 94 or 94.
How has minor league life been?
It’s different. It’s a grind, but no complaints at all. You have to love what you do.
Be sure to check out Nick Kingham’s Baseball Cards