Nick Kingham Scouting Report (2014)
With Jameson Taillon joining the parade of Tommy John patients this spring, Nick Kingham becomes the next serious pitching prospect on deck for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Last season served as his breakout campaign, cruising through the Florida State League in the first half before finishing the year with the Altoona Curve. He returns to the Eastern League to begin this season, but a promotion to Indianapolis (or even Pittsburgh should a rotation spot open up) may be in his near future.
With a well developed, muscular build, Nick Kingham stands 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds. He has reached physical maturity at the age of 22 with no further development expected. That’s not a concern as he already possesses an ideal pitchers’ frame with a strong lower half, intimidating size, and solid athleticism. He is suited for the rigors of a 100+ pitch workload.
Kingham employs a low effort motion with good rhythm and body control. It’s not an athletically demanding delivery with only minimal hip slide during his leg lift, a moderate stride, and a slower tempo. He generates good arm speed and delivers from a 3/4 slot with a clean and easy arm action. From the stretch, Kingham varies his time to the plate by utilizing both a full leg lift and a slide step motion.
On a chilly night in Altoona, Nick Kingham’s fastball velocity did not live up to expectations. It sat comfortably in the 90-92 range throughout the evening, topping out at 93 MPH during his final inning. This is average velocity for a right-handed pitcher but well below the reported 92-95 (t97-98). When located down in the zone, the fastball arrived on a good downward plane with sink and run that made the pitch difficult to square. Elevated, the pitch lost some of its liveliness and became more susceptible to hard contact. It was likely just an off night for the fastball (cold weather, early in the season, et cetera), and there is a bit more velocity that just didn’t emerge.
- Velocity High: 93 MPH
- Velocity Low: 87 MPH
- Velocity Avg: 90.6 MPH
- Count: 43*
- Strike Pct.: 58.1%
- Swinging Strike Pct.: 9.3%
Curveball, slider, slider, curveball — choose whichever designation you prefer. Kingham flashed the curveball glove signal during his warm up pitches, so curveball it is. The breaking ball is delivered on a flat plane with tight spin resulting in 11-5 break. Thrown to his arm side, it manifests as hard downward movement; thrown to his glove side, it darts away from right-handed hitters. At its best the curve shows steep, late depth that makes it an excellent chase pitch. Kingham used the pitch exclusively in that role, throwing all but one with the batter down two strikes and beginning each at the edges of the zone.
- Velocity High: 85 MPH
- Velocity Low: 81 MPH
- Velocity Avg: 83.6 MPH
- Count: 7*
- Strike Pct.: 57.1%
- Swinging Strike Pct.: 28.6%
One thing that Nick Kingham does very well is maintain his arm speed when throwing his change-up. It’s a firm pitch — hovering around 86 MPH — with late fading and sinking action. The differential between fastball and change was a bit narrow during this outing with just five miles per hour of separation; a few ticks returning to his fastball would alleviate this concern. The movement makes the change a viable chase pitch against left handed batters.
- Velocity High: 87 MPH
- Velocity Low: 85 MPH
- Velocity Avg: 85.8 MPH
- Count: 10*
- Strike Pct.: 80.0%
- Swinging Strike Pct.: 30.0%
Command & Control:
Finding consistent command will be the major obstacle for Kingham. He showed that he can hit his spots with the fastball at times, but too often the pitch would drift from its intended location in one direction or another. The change-up in particular suffered from poor command; the fade often caused the pitch to move back towards the middle of the plate into vulnerable areas of the zone. The curveball was well located, but it must be noted that he didn’t use the pitch within the strike zone. His smooth and controlled delivery should help him continue to improve his command as he gains more experience.
The physical right-hander showed three average or better pitches with the curve capable of ending at-bats. He worked both sides of the plate and had a plan of attack against hitters. Kingham struggled at times with his command and did not show overpowering raw stuff. As it stands, he has number three starter upside, but that gives his fastball the benefit of the doubt. If his fastball is truly a 90-92 MPH offering, he would slot into the back of the rotation without improved command. I hope to be able to get another look before he moves on from Eastern League.
Nick Kingham’s Tools:
Tool Present Future Projected Role No. 3 Starter on a 2nd Division Team Fastball 5 6 Curveball 6 6 Change-up 5 6 Control 5 5 Command 4 5
*Please note that this does not constitute every pitch that Kingham threw during the evening. I spent the third inning on the third base side filming (all of these pitches were excluded) and missed a few readings from the remaining innings. I additionally want to thank Mike Passanisi of the Altoona Curve for granting me access and making this Nick Kingham scouting report possible.
23 Apr 2014 / Jeff Reese /
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