The Pirates Prospects 2016 Prospect Guide is now on sale. The book features prospect reports on everyone in the system, the 2016 top 50 prospects, and the most comprehensive coverage of the Pirates’ farm system that you can find. Subscribers to the site get free and discounted books, with Top Prospect subscribers getting the 2016 book for free, and Annual subscribers getting $10 off. Both levels of subscribers can also get the book for just $5. Details on all three promotions can be found on the products page, and you can subscribe to the site or upgrade your current plan on the subscriptions page.
While the top 50 prospects are exclusive to the book, we will be releasing the top 20 prospects over the next few weeks. The reports will only be available to site subscribers, including those with a monthly plan. You can subscribe here, and if you like these reports, be sure to purchase your copy of the book on the products page of the site to get much more analysis on every player in the system.
To recap the countdown so far:
20. Willy Garcia, RF
19. Clay Holmes, RHP
18. Mitch Keller, RHP
17. Max Moroff, 2B
16. Chad Kuhl, RHP
15. Cole Tucker, SS
14. Stephen Tarpley, LHP
13. Steven Brault, LHP
12. Yeudy Garcia, RHP
11. Kevin Newman, SS
10. Ke’Bryan Hayes, 3B
We continue the countdown with the number 9 prospect, Nick Kingham.
9. Nick Kingham, RHP
The 2015 season looked like the year where Nick Kingham could make the jump to the majors, taking a long-term spot in the Pirates’ rotation. There was definitely an opportunity for him this year after some mid-season injuries. However, Kingham had an injury of his own, going down with Tommy John surgery in May.
Kingham said that he threw a pitch and felt a pop in his elbow. Prior to the injury, he was dealing with some command issues and was getting hit pretty hard. Tommy John doesn’t usually just show up on one pitch, but is an issue that takes place over time. It’s possible that the command issues were related, and the pop was the literal breaking point for his tendon. Either way, the Pirates have been using the rehab period to clean up his arm slot and his timing, which should remove any command issues when he returns.
Tommy John usually takes 12-14 months of recovery, and the Pirates have been more conservative in their rehab in the last year. Kingham started throwing in September, and was up to 120 feet in December. The plan is to start throwing in January, and get to a point where he can throw in bullpens by the end of Spring Training. The rehab process is long and tedious, but fortunately Kingham talks with Jameson Taillon on a daily basis to help him through the process.
Kingham had some nice upside before the injury, with a fastball that sat 92-95 MPH, touching 97-98. The pitch had good command and good downward movement. He also throws a curve and a changeup, with both offerings flashing above-average at times. The curve can be deceptive, looking like a fastball out of the hand, then featuring late drop that makes it a good out pitch or a ground ball pitch. He’s got the frame to go 200 innings a year, and his pitch combo and normal pinpoint command could make him a future number three starter in the majors. Expect him to return late 2016, with a chance for the majors in 2017.