Nick Kingham was looking for history during his first Major League Baseball start. The Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher retired the first 20 batters he faced on Sunday against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Kingham, 26, would have been the first pitcher in MLB history to record a perfect game in his first career game and only the second rookie to do so, joining the Chicago White Sox’s Charlie Robertson, who pitched a perfect game against the Detroit Tigers on April 30, 1922, in his fourth career start. Kingham’s perfect game bid was the longest effort by a pitcher making his MLB debut in history, according to the Pirates broadcast.
Kingham gave up a two-out single to the Cardinals’ in the top of the 7th to end his bid for a perfect game and no hitter. Kingham, who struck out nine Cardinals batters, completed the 7th inning by getting out the next batter, Marcell Ozuna.
Here’s what you need to know about Kingham:
1. Kingham Said He Was ‘Excited’ to Make His Long-Awaited MLB Debut
Nick Kingham told reporters he was looking forward to his long-awaited MLB debut after spending more than eight seasons in the minor leagues in the Pittsburgh Pirates organization.
“I couldn’t be more excited, couldn’t be more prepared to come in and finally pitch in the big league level,” Kingham told TribLive.com on Saturday. “Just the length that it took me to get here has made me who I am and made me more prepared than I ever would have been. I’m excited. I’m ready.”
He added, “It’s not how you draw it up. It’s not how I envisioned it when I signed here eight years ago. But it’s my path. It’s my journey. It’s my story. It’s who I am.”
His manager, Clint Hurdle, told MLB.com, “He’s in as good of a place as he’s ever been, just about playing the game, pitching, confidence, the things he’s learned. I’m looking forward to seeing him pitch.”
2. He Was Drafted by the Pirates in the 4th Round of the 2010 Draft Out of His Las Vegas High School
Kingham, who was born in Houston, Texas, went to Sierra Vista High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, after his family relocated there during his childhood.
He was drafted by the Pirates in the 4th Round of the 2010 draft.
3. Kingham’s Career Has Been Slowed by Injuries, Including Tommy John Surgery in 2015
Kingham was slow to reach the Pirates roster because of injuries he suffered throughout his career. After rising steadily through the ranks, he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015, which cost him most of that season and the 2016 season, in which he only played 10 games. Kingham also missed time early in the 2017 season with an ankle injury.
Hurdle told TribLive.com that Kingham’s rough road to the majors makes him a player worth watching.
“Any time a pitcher has to take a step back and deal with what Nick has had to deal with, it gets your attention,” Hurdle told the newspaper.
Overall Kingham has put together a 43-41 record with a 3.37 ERA and 617 strikeouts during his minor league career. He is 2-1 with a 1.59 ERA in four starts this year with the Triple A Indianapolis Indians.
4. He Was Ranked as the Eighth-Best Prospect in the Pirates Organization by Baseball America Before This Season
Kingham was ranked as the eighth-best prospect in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization entering the season by Baseball America.
John Sickels, of SBNation, ranked him as the team’s 14th-best prospect, writing, “ssed most of 2015 and 2016 with Tommy John but has his stuff back and throws strikes; low-90s fastball with sink, mixes in solid-average change-up and inconsistent curveball; development has been slowed by the injury and he’s getting old for a prospect but he has some Triple-A success and he throws strikes, giving him a shot as a fourth/fifth starter.”
5. His Parents, Younger Brother & Fiancee Were in the Crowd for His MLB Debut
Kingham’s parents, younger brother and fiancee were in the crowd for his Major League debut, according to TribLive.com.
His brother, Nolan, pitches for the University of Texas and was able to attend Sunday’s game because the Longhorns were at West Virginia University for a weekend series, according to TribLive.
Source: Heavy Sports