Minor League Report: Bradenton's Kingham earns more than just 1st win
BRADENTON, Fla. — Nick Kingham's first victory as a Bradenton Marauder came with a bonus:
A lesson on how to overcome early trouble.
Kingham allowed a first-inning run for the first time this season Monday, when he spotted the Jupiter Hammerheads a 2-0 lead. But Kingham righted himself, blanking Jupiter over the next four innings and earning his first victory in High Single-A.
“It makes me feel like I understand myself a little bit better, even though I got some things going on and I'm struggling a little bit,” said Kingham, who struck out six and walked none in five innings of the Marauders' 5-3 win. “I was able to find myself, and I know what my strengths are, and I just try and use that to my abilities.”
Kingham showed similar moxie later in the game when he answered the Marauders' four-run third inning with a perfect top of the fourth.
“From a pitcher's standpoint, shutdown innings are crucial,” he said, “especially when we score, to put a zero up the very next inning. It shuts them down and keeps our momentum going.”
The Pirates' fourth-round draft pick in 2010, Kingham took a 1-2 record and a 3.92 ERA into Sunday night's start against Brevard County. Control has been a strength for the 21-year-old right-hander: In 20 2⁄3 innings, he has struck out 20 and walked four.
Hanson heating up
Following a slow start, shortstop Alen Hanson has become a force atop Bradenton's lineup, hitting .310 with a .383 on-base percentage in his last 10 games.
But there is room for improvement.
The left-handed-swinging Hanson is hitting .194 in 31 at-bats against southpaws, and as the team's leadoff hitter, he is batting .235 in 51 at-bats with the bases empty.
Hanson also has committed 13 errors in 17 games at short, but that's a team-wide epidemic: Bradenton's 35 errors and .955 fielding percentage are the worst in the Florida State League.
No letdown for Polanco
Gregory Polanco, the Pirates' Minor League Player of the Year, has been as good as advertised, batting .347 with 11 RBI in the Marauders' first 19 games.
Polanco entered Saturday's game against St. Lucie ranked first in the league in steals (nine) and is 8 for 20 (.400) with runners in scoring position, just want you want to see from your No. 3 hitter.
The Marauders' home park isn't too kind to pitchers, according to a study done by Baseball America.
McKechnie Field, which has served as the Pirates' spring home since 1969 and the Marauders' only field since their inception in 2010, allowed an average of 9.98 runs per game from 2010-12, which was tops in the 12-team Florida State League. The report also showed McKechnie was second in the league in hits (17.59) and home runs (1.44) per game.
While those numbers could be traced to the ballpark's personnel, McKechnie Field is vulnerable to swirling, powerful winds thanks to its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico. It isn't strange to see the flags high atop the batter's eye in center field blowing straight away from home plate.
By contrast, Double-A Altoona's Peoples Natural Gas Field allowed 8.15 runs per game, ranking it 11th out of 12 teams in the Eastern League.
So that's just another reason Bradenton pitchers wouldn't mind a bump to Double-A.
John Lembo is a freelance writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Fitting in will be Kang’s biggest hurdle
- Pirates starting pitcher Worley is in right place, right time with team
- Pirates notebook: Sadler gets first Grapefruit start
- Burnett’s farewell tour wishlist has just 1 item: Pirates World Series
- Sawchik: Should McCutchen really get a huge salary bump?
- Pirates notebook: Infield prospect Hanson used to playing elders
- Pirates looking at ways to make McCutchen’s off days more productive
- Ex-Brewers star Hart hopes to prove to Pirates he still can play
- Pirates willing to consider high salary to keep star McCutchen
- Pirates notebook: Tabata rediscovering his power
- Team interaction important to Pirates veteran pitcher Burnett