Height: 6'5" Weight: 220lbs Born: 11/08/1991 Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
Selected in the Fourth round of the 2010 First Year Player Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates
Nicholas Gordan Kingham. What name could sound more regal and what presence on the mound could be more imposing? Few can rival this 6’5” hurler for the Pirates as he smoothly delivers a pitch that can throw the hottest batters off balance. He is a master of illusion as he delivers what seems to be a fastball... then it changes-up! Sorry, not sorry batter! Nick definitely has the frame and the stuff to become a frontline starter for the Pirates organization. Height gives him a great projection and his velocity has been sitting at 95plus. The second half of his season, Nick had a 1.68 in his last nine starts for West Virginia Power. Armed with consistency, confidence, and pure strength, 2013 is set to be a breakout season for “The King”.
Title. Double click me.
Baseball Life 365: What are your first memories of baseball? Did you grow up playing T-Ball, Little League, travel ball and such?
Nick Kingham: My first memories of baseball have to be back when I was 4 or 5 years old playing tee-ball in Little League. That is what started my interest in baseball! Ever since then, I played on the all-star teams, travel ball on my club teams, and traveled the country playing in tournaments.
BL365: Were you always a pitcher or did you play other positions growing up? I bet you were always the tallest on the team!
NK: Growing up, pretty much everyone pitched on the team. Some were obviously better than others but everyone got a chance. I also played first base growing up since I was the tallest out of all of my friends! It seemed like the best position for me to play while I wasn't pitching!
BL365: Who was your greatest influence as you grew up playing the game? How old were you when you saw your first MLB game and in what stadium?
NK: My dad had the biggest influence on me in the game of baseball. He played it when he was younger and introduced it to me at such a young age. He coached me the whole time I was playing until about 14 years old. He has taught me everything I know about the game and is responsible for most of my success. When I saw my first baseball game I had to have been around 12 years old or so. It was at Petco field, where the San Diego Padres play!
BL365: During high school, you missed your junior year of baseball due to a move but successfully made up for that your senior year at Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas by going 8 – 3 with a 2.01 ERA and 72 strike outs in 13 games. What memory stands out most during your high school years and what achievements from then are you most proud of?
NK: My favorite memories from high school have to be just being at the field everyday with all my teammates. Spending so much time together and putting in so much effort on the field made it really enjoyable to play next to them on the same field. My greatest accomplishment during high school is most likely making the all-star team and playing with the best players from all over the city. Most of them were my friends I played with growing up, so it was a lot of fun to be able to play with them again.
BL365: You had committed to Oregon before you were drafted in 2010. Tell us about the day you got the call, what you were doing and how you celebrate? Did you know that it would be the Pirates drafting you?
NK: On the day of the draft, I was out working with my dad, who has a pool cleaning service, and I was helping him when I got the call! To celebrate, I went to dinner with my parents and brother later on that night! I had no idea who would draft me; all I knew was the Pirates were very interested in me throughout the drafting process so it didn't surprise me when they did.
BL365: You were able to get in a few games before the 2010 season ended but you have now had two full seasons of minor league. How has the transition been from high school to pro? What has been the biggest transition?
NK: The biggest transition from high school to pro baseball has to be the fact that everyone in the line-up, 1-9, can hurt you so there are no easy outs. The best part about playing pro baseball is everyone behind you playing defense was one of the best players from their area or college and so they make those tough plays that might sneak thru in high school.
BL365: In 2011 you posted a 2.15 ERA over 15 starts and pitched at least 5 innings. B.A. ranked you 9th best prospect for the Pirates. 2012 saw some ups and downs but you finished well with a 3.69 ERA in the second half of the season with a 1.68 in the last nine starts. What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishments during the past two seasons and what you feel you need to work on for 2013?
NK: Over the past 2 seasons I have experienced a lot. I started out with a lot of success and I was very consistent with that. But my second season I struggled a bit early but my biggest accomplishment was to be able to bounce back and eventually be able to learn from my mistake and know how to minimize the damage at times in an inning. I've grown up a lot and have a better understanding of what to do and what not to do and that is credited to my struggles thought my minor league career so far.
BL365: What has been the best part and the worst part of the minor league lifestyle?
NK: The best part about playing minor league baseball is that we get to go to the field every single day! You get to do what you love an it's every day, unlike football where it is once a week. And the worst part about playing minor league baseball is the fact that it is "minor league baseball". Ha-ha! We have long bus rides, not the best food at times and we stay in some bad hotels. All the while, you're expected to play your best when you're called upon. So the adversity makes it a little more difficult but when you're doing something you love everyday, you make those sacrifices.
BL365: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
NK: Before I go out and pitch in the game there are definitely some things I like to do. Like getting a good meal in, taking a shower, riding the bike a bit and get stretched out by our trainer. Nothing too crazy or dramatic like some people would think.
BL365: What pitches are part of your current repertoire? What is your go to pitch?
NK: Being a starting pitcher, you need to have at least 3 solid pitches that you can trust to throw in any count, in any situation. That being said, I have a fastball, and curveball, and a change-up that I throw. My favorite pitch to throw is the change-up! It is the hardest pitch to hit I believe, since it looks very similar to a fastball. It's definitely my go-to pitch to throw.
BL365: How are you spending your off season? Do you have a specific workout routine or training schedule?
NK: During the off-season every year I take off some time to let my body rest. I don’t start working out until the beginning of November usually. My off-season workout schedule is actually pretty crazy. Workouts start at 5:30 a.m. and we workout Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Fridays. I workout at a physical therapy office so we need to get in and out before the patients start coming in for their treatments. Once I'm finished working out during he day, I go to work with my dad and help him with his pool cleaning company. I usually work with him 3-4 days a week so that definitely keeps me busy.
BL365: Do you have any hobbies such as golf?
NK: I have a lot of hobbies! I really enjoy playing golf: I'm not any good at it by any means but I do like the game. My other favorite sport to play is basketball! It's always been a favorite sport, but now that I'm signed professionally with the Pirates, I can't really play basketball anymore since it’s a high injury sport.
BL365: If you could have any superpower, what would you choose and why?
NK: If I could have any superpower, it would have to be able to fly! I think that would be the coolest thing. I love going fast, like rollercoasters and fast cars so to fly fast all over the world would be amazing!
BL365: If you could pick a theme song for your life, what would it be and why?
NK: If I had to choose a theme song to my life, I think it would be "Live Like You Were Dying" by Tim McGraw. I like to live life to the fullest and have as much fun as I can. That can also translate into working harder to get better at baseball too. You're never promised tomorrow, just like you're never promised to be able to play this game forever. Take advantage of it and don’t take your skills and talents for granted. If you're not getting better, you're getting worse.
BL365: Do you any obsessions or collect anything such as watches, shoes, etc?
NK: I'm a big shopper! I love new, stylish things. Whether it be watches, sunglasses, shoes! I always like looking nice and I like dressing up looking my best so that mentally fuels my shopping habit!
BL365: What one word would you use to describe yourself and tell us why you chose that word?
NK: One word I would use to describe myself would be "Open". Ha-ha I never hold anything back! I speak my mind; I do what I want, even when it gets me in trouble. That's just how I've always been, I am who I am so that's who I am going to be..my own person.
BL365: Who has been the most influential person in your life and why?
NK: My dad for sure has been my biggest influence. He's spent so much time with me whether it be throwing extra batting practice to me when I was a hitter still or giving me books to read on the mental side of baseball. He has just committed himself to give me every opportunity to succeed and to be the best player I can be.
BL365: Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?
NK: In 5 years, I can see myself on a World Series contending Pirate team. I think the Pirates are headed in the right direction and I feel extremely honored to be apart of what's happening in this organization. There are big things to come I believe.
BL365: What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?
NK: I want to be remembered as a player who was liked, fun to be around, but more than anything, a competitor and someone who gave everything he had every time he took the field. I want to be that "Go-to" guy, the pitcher who they want pitching in all the big games!
Interview and Feature by Victoria Vesce