Originally written on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 11/9/14
Despite having covered the headliner arms of Pirates instructs — Gerrit Cole (covered last week) and Jameson Taillon (looking basically the same as when I covered him midseason) — there were still some interesting high ceiling arms on display. First up is righty Nick Kingham, whom the Pirates signed for an over-slot bonus just under $500,000 in the 4th round of the 2010 draft from a Las Vegas area high school. Kingham made his full season debut in Low-A West Virginia as a 20 year old in 2012 and had a solid campaign—groundballs, good control and a solid K rate despite what appears to be a fluky home run rate fueling a 4.39 ERA. Those stats imply an evaluation close to what I saw from Kingham in instructs. In a two inning stint, he sat 92-94 with consistent above average two-seam life down in the zone and solid location. Kingham’s 82-83 mph slider was above average at times with long action, occasional hard bite and three-quarters tilt. His changeup was the better off-speed pitch, consistently above average with better command, fade and bottom at 82-85 mph and he threw one that was plus. Kingham torques his hips a good bit to create velocity and his arm is a little late to catch up, but not enough for it to be a red flag. He has good posture at release and a high ¾ slot to create more plane with an arm that works well out front. His delivery is pretty smooth with a solid arm action and good not great balance that he makes work despite some unnecessary east-west motion and a consistent spinoff to first base. Kingham gets over his front leg, has some deception, little effort and his front side is fine. He’s a solid athlete with a solid idea of what he’s doing—basically everything about his delivery is good enough that I wouldn’t really mess with it and he has a chance for average command at maturity. This kind of stuff and delivery combined with a sturdy 6’5, 220 pound frame and the youth to project improvement means Kingham has a solid 3 or 4 groundball-inducing, innings-eater starter upside. It doesn’t excite fans much but is exactly the kind of player every system needs to keep the parent team from spending millions on generic or injury prone pitchers to fill out the rotation. The other two pitchers I saw are less easy to evaluate as there are some clear strengths and weaknesses with some projection necessary. Clay Holmes was a late-rising prospect that signed for $1.2 million in the 9th round out of a south Alabama high school in 2011. Vic Black also came with a pedigree and bonus as a sandwich round pick in 2009 that got a slot bonus out of Dallas Baptist over $700,000. Holmes requires a good bit of projection to imagine him in the big leagues since his delivery isn’t like any successful big leaguers. He does something similar to what Jered Weaver does, as a long righty throwing across his body from the extreme third base end of the rubber, but Holmes is much more awkward and stiff. Holmes’ delivery is of the upright, tall-and-fall variety and he tilts his body at a 45-degree angle at release to get his arm slot even higher than standard high three quarters. He will look pretty awkward at times with inconsistent mechanics—for example he will blatantly throw off his heel at times while having a solid, balanced foot strike at other times. As for the stuff, Holmes is in good shape. He sat 90-93, hitting 95 in a two inning outing, working up in the zone more than I’d like (likely fixed with a better delivery) with primarily four-seamers. His 77-79 mph curveball will show occasional sharp downward bite and above average potential. Holmes’ 83-84 mph changeup has cut as opposed to the more standard fading action but he has solid feel for it and it could be a solid-average pitch. There’s a lot of wasted east-west motion for no real benefit and with a very short to non-existent list of big league pitchers with a delivery like that, you have to be concerned about Holmes reaching the show with his health, stuff and command all where they could be with a cleaner motion. The body, stuff, arm action and age are all in his favor and things can still work out, but I would have to be really sold on Holmes’ makeup and coach-ability to give him $1.2 million. Black is a little easier to figure out as he is more straightforward—the max effort reliever with a big fastball and not much else. The other pitchers at instructs had heard about Black’s radar readings and lined up to see if he could hit triple digits, though he only peaked at 99 mph for me once over two outings. The first outing was one inning and Black sat 96-98 hitting 99 while the next, two inning stint had him at 96-97, then 92-94 in the second inning, underscoring the obvious weakness in his strength. His other pitch is a hard curveball at 82-85 mph that he has real trouble staying on top of, commanding and getting consistent action on, but is an above average downer when Black gets it right. Black pitches exclusively from the stretch with a very aggressive stride and unusually high arm slot. There’s some head violence, lack of repeatability and below average in-game command. Black is 24 and put up solid numbers in AA Altoona last year, but he projects as more of a one-dimensional middle reliever.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade

Brian Hoyer praises Johnny Manziel for checking into rehab

Dockett: I would have signed with Cardinals for less money

Report: Darrelle Revis' decision to come down to Patriots, Jets

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

Associated Press will have 'robots' writing game stories

Jaworski on Winston: 'I would not take him at that No. 1 pick

Peyton Manning passes physical, returning to Broncos

Gregg Popovich rips notion of NBA Finals games in July

Ortiz on Schilling controversy: 'It makes you angry'

Likeliest landing spots for Ndamukong Suh

Tigers pitcher Alfredo Simon drives a chrome Mercedes

WATCH: Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs who doubts her ability

Michelle Beadle’s campaign to be cast in ‘Sharknado 3′ pays off

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Dodgers will have a tough time dumping Andre Ethier

Brian Cashman: Derek Jeter should be final Yankees captain

Tom Brady, Rory McIlroy to play round at Augusta National

No one knows who will win the 2014-15 NBA MVP

Giants TE on plane that slid off runway in New York

TSN to stop airing tweets after trade deadline debacle

Is there a team for Rajon Rondo?

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Likeliest landing spots for Suh

Jay Cutler available to teams in trade

Ronda Rousey breaks guy's ribs

Ten teams who have tightened the belt

Mayweather waited for Pacquiao to get old, right?

Maurice Jones-Drew announces his retirement from NFL

Ndamukong Suh is biggest prize, risk in free agency

AP will have 'robots' writing game stories

Manning officially returning to Broncos

No one knows who will win the MVP

Pop rips notion of NBA Finals in July

Is there a team for Rajon Rondo?

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.