Nick Kingham was drafted out of high school by the Pittsburgh Pirates, in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. Since the draft, Kingham has pitched in 41 professional games (over three seasons) with a current combined pro record of 11-9, with a 3.69 ERA. Not mind boggling by any means, but certainly not terrible for a guy who’s a mere 20 years old.
Kingham–who went 6-2, with a 2.15 ERA in 2011–has gone 5-7, with a 4.79 ERA so far this season. A noticeable difference from his performance a year ago, but nothing to really concern yourself with, as although this is his 3rd year playing pro ball, it’s just his first year of full-season baseball. Give him a little more time to adjust to the longer season, and I think you’ll see this guy really take off.
If in fact Nick Kingham can find his groove in the years to come he should have no problem quickly working his way up through the Pirates’ system, and possibly into the majors. Being 6′ 5″, 220 pounds, he certainly has the frame to become a frontline starter somewhere down the road for the Buccos.
Nick Kingham–number 10 prospect in the Pirates’ organization–took the time recently to answer some of my questions:
1.) At what age did you first become interested in baseball? Who was your biggest baseball influence growing up?
I first started playing baseball at age 3–hitting in the back yard with my dad, playing catch and fielding ground balls. My dad has definitely been my biggest influence to play baseball. He played it growing up and so he introduced me to it at a young age, and I fell in love with it.
2.) Who was your favorite player growing up? Why?
My favorite player growing up [would be] either Roger Clemens or Jeff Bagwell. I was born in Houston, Texas, and so my family and I were big Houston Astro fans. I grew to like Bagwell because of his talents and his unusual batting stance. I always tried to imitate his stance in games; or in pick up games with my friends.
3.) You were drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in the 4th round of the 2010 draft. What was that process like for you? Where were you when you found out? Initial thoughts?
I was out working with my dad. He owns a pool cleaning service back home in Las Vegas and I was out helping him the day of the draft. It was a long process after I heard I had been drafted. I got a phone call that day and then didn’t hear from my scout (Larry Broadway) again for about 2 or 3 weeks. We went through negotiations and finally reached an agreement about 2 months later, and I was signed, and started my professional career with the Pirates, in the GCL, a few days later.
4.) Being drafted out of high school, what’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed thus far between HS and pro ball?
The biggest difference between high school baseball and baseball at the professional level is that everyone in the line-up can hurt you. Everyone is capable of putting the ball out of the park, so the batters are more consistent and more patient at the plate.
5.) You’re ranked by MLB.com as the 10th best prospect in the Pirates’ organization. Does that have any effect on you–in terms of living up to the expectations?
Being a prospect in the Pirates’ organization has brought some pressure to me but not in the sense to where I have changed my game. I still go out and do everything the same as I did in high school, and just try and be as consistent as I can be everyday.
6.) Of the pitches in your arsenal, which do you feel the most comfortable with at the moment? Which do you feel needs the most work?
I feel like I am comfortable with all 3 of my pitches (Fastball, Change-up, and Curveball). I just need to be more consistent with them all. That’s the biggest thing I’ve been working on lately.
7.) When’s the first time someone asked you for your autograph? Oddest thing you’ve ever signed?
I think the first time someone asked me for my autograph I was a sophomore in high school. We went on a road trip and played in some tournaments and we had fans after the games asking for everyones autograph. The most unusual thing I have signed has to be a little girl [that] came up to me with a Sharpie and asked if I would sign her arm!
8.) Favorite food?
My favorite food is something I just became introduced to: Sushi!
9.) Favorite TV show?
My favorite TV show is Entourage.
10.) Lastly, what advice would you give to kids who are just starting out that dream of playing professional baseball one day?
My advice to kids that are just starting to play the game of baseball, and want to make it professionally one day, is to never give up on your dreams. Work hard at it everyday and when you think you are good enough get a little better. There is always someone out there working harder than you are–taking more hacks in the cage, running a few more sprints–so don’t ever think that you’ve reached the top, because someone will eventually pass you if you let them.
Big thanks to Nick Kingham for taking the time to answer my questions.
You can follow him on twitter: @NickKingham