Prospect Notebook: Kingham Pounding the Strike Zone

Nick Kingham made his second start of Spring Training, and his first start of the year at Pirate City today, going up against the Philadelphia A-ball team. Kingham threw four innings, throwing mostly fastballs. His command looked sharp for where he’s at in Spring Training right now.

“It’s been well,” Kingham said of his fastball command. “Pounding the strike zone, getting strikes early in the count. I’m just working with that, and that’s key if you get first pitch strikes and you work off of that. So that’s what I’m doing pretty well right now.”

The right-hander threw 50 pitches today, with 41 of those going for strikes. He struck out three and didn’t issue a walk.

Kingham started off the outing by retiring the side in order in the first. He ran in to a bit of trouble in the second, as a result of an error by Willy Garcia in right field. Kingham got a first pitch pop-up, but Garcia lost the ball and let an easy fly fall to the ground in a situation that seems to happen multiple times daily to players from both teams at Pirate City. The run later scored, although Kingham escaped the frame with just the one unearned run, getting two of his three strikeouts on the day to get out of the jam.

Josh Bell saved Kingham in the start of the third inning. The right-hander gave up a long fly ball to left field, which Bell pulled back over the fence, robbing a sure home run.

Kingham wasn’t as lucky in the fourth. He elevated a few pitches early in the inning, giving up a hard hit single, followed by a home run to right field for his only two earned runs on the day. Overall Kingham finished with three runs, two earned, on three hits in four innings, with no walks and three strikeouts.

Overall the Pirates Prospects number ten prospect looked good, with good command of his fastball, and good velocity. He was 90-94 MPH in the outing, hitting a lot of 93 and 94 in the early innings. He dropped down to 90-92 in the last inning, and touched 93 once. The one curveball that I saw him throw had good spin, and went for a strike.

Video of his second inning can be seen below.


Right-handed pitcher Tyler Waldron threw on the opposite field today, working on his fastball command. Waldron flashed a nice curveball in the bullpen as he warmed up for his start, but when the game came around he was working mostly on his fastball command.

“I’m really not too worried on my off-speed pitches,” Waldron said. “My biggest focus right now, especially it being so early still, is just flat fastball command. I’m trying to work both sides of the plate and down. Trying to get my two-seam to sink a little bit more. I’ve always had my curve and my change-up. I may have threw one of each of them today. So it’s more of a fastball focus for me right now.”

Waldron was focused on repeating his mechanics, hitting the same locations over and over, and throwing downhill. He struggled in that regard at times, and was hit hard on a few occasions today. The right-hander gave up two runs on six hits in four innings, with three strikeouts and no walks.

“It sounds so easy, ‘downhill and down, downhill and down’, but it’s tough to get downhill,” Waldron said of the Pirates’ preference for pitchers to throw on a downhill plane, down in the zone. “I was probably 75/25 or 60/40 on down in the zone, so I definitely need to improve on that type of stuff.”

Waldron was 89-92 MPH today, mostly sitting around 90-91.


Here is Wilbur Miller’s recap of the day.

-I only saw one at-bat by Josh Bell, and he grounded out. According to Wilbur he singled on another at-bat. On the field, he robbed a home run, pulling the ball back over the fence and saving Nick Kingham in the third inning.

-Alen Hanson made a great play at shortstop. On a ball hit deep in the hole, Hanson ranged over, made a nice backhand play, then turned, jumped, and threw a perfect strike to first base. It was a highlight reel play.

-Carlos Mesa had a good game on both sides of the ball. He threw a runner out at the plate early in the game. The runner was a bit slow, but Mesa threw a perfect strike with plenty of time to get the out. Later, a speedy runner hit a double down the line, and the third base coach didn’t even test Mesa, yelling for the player to stop as he was rounding second and Mesa was about to pick up the ball. Later in the game Mesa hit a bases clearing double to deep center field with the bases loaded.

-Emmanuel DeLeon was 92-94 MPH, and was consistently hitting 94. He also flashed an 81 MPH slider which had back door action against a left-hander. His fastball had good movement, although it was a little inconsistent. It was much better than what I saw out of him prior to the 2011 season, and his consistency from the 2011 season has carried over to the Spring.

-Samuel Gonzalez has been picking up a lot of hits the past few days. He had two today. He’s still a red shirt player, and can’t do much catching behind the plate because of his shoulder, but he’s been playing as the DH the last two days, and has shown that he can swing the bat. Gonzalez hit .302 last year in State College.


Here is Nick Kingham’s second inning of work from today’s game. I missed one at-bat, due to a bad angle with a left-hander at the plate.

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Did Kingham have this fastball velocity last year?  I remember that he sat in the low 90s, topping out at 93, although my memory could be wrong.

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