Pittsburgh Pirates pitching prospect Nick Kingham picks up win for Bradenton Marauders

jlembo@bradenton.comApril 23, 2013 

BRADENTON -- By his own admission, Nick Kingham was a little too comfortable during his last outing at McKechnie Field.

During the first inning Monday night, the Bradenton Marauders righty looked anything but.

He was vulnerable on two-strike counts, even hitting a guy to load the bases, and watched while the Jupiter Hammerheads put Bradenton in another quick hole.

Kingham never looked that uncomfortable again.

Ranked the 17th-best prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates' system by MLB.com, Kingham delivered five efficient innings as the Marauders beat Jupiter 5-3 in front of 787 fans at McKechnie.

It was the first win of the season for Kingham, 21, the Pirates' fourth-round pick in 2010, and the fourth consecutive win for the Marauders.

Kingham started the Marauders' home-opener roughly two weeks ago and retired the first nine he faced before hitting a wall, which he blamed on his becoming too reliant on the fastball.

That wasn't the case Monday. Kingham fanned six in

five innings but was comfortable going to his other pitches when he had to.

"The fastball opened up everything for me (Monday)," he said. "It allowed me to throw my change-up and my curveball when I needed to, and I got ahead with it."

The Hammerheads scored twice in the first, loading the bases on two hits and a hit batsman before Noah Perio lofted a two-run single to left.

"The first inning, I got ahead of guys -- I just didn't put them away," said Kingham, who hit Ryan Fisher with a 1-2 pitch. "That kind of got me into trouble in that first inning. But I figured it out. ... It was just me being a little up in the zone, not executing my pitches properly."

Kingham began the season with 180 strikeouts in a little over 216 professional innings, and has 20 in 20 2/3 this year.

So the more fastballs the better, said manager Frank Kremblas.

"What he needs to be able to do is command the fastball," Kremblas said. "So if he's relying on the fastball too much from a standpoint of how he's thinking about it, I think he's thinking incorrectly, because if he's commanding the fastball, you don't need another pitch. A fastball in is different than a fastball away; fastball up is different from fastball down.

"If you can throw a fastball wherever you want, whenever you want, you don't need another pitch…If he's making good pitches with it, that's not relying on it. ... But that's (being) young - they think they need to throw a few more offspeed at times. That's the problem for everybody in baseball -- they start thinking."

As Kingham found himself, the Marauders (6-12) found some offense, scoring four times in the third inning on an error, a sacrifice fly by Gregory Polanco and a two-run home run from Jose Osuna.

Osuna added an RBI double in the fifth and legged out an infield hit, raising his average to .262 and leaving him a triple shy of the hitting for the cycle.

"That's the biggest key -- he's being a little more patient," Kremblas said of Osuna, who entered the game slugging just .311. "And of course, obviously, he's getting a little more confidence as he gets the hits, which is nice."

Robbie Kilcrease and Zack Thornton teamed for four innings of relief, with Thornton stranding the tying run on first in the ninth to secure his third save in five chances.

"It's good to have a win, a team win," Kingham said, "to keep the streak going on. I'm happy about that."

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