Kingham undergoes Tommy John surgery
No. 6-ranked Pirates prospect made six starts in Triple-A before elbow injury
SAN DIEGO -- Nick Kingham, a 23-year-old right-hander in the Pirates' Minor League system, underwent Tommy John surgery on Wednesday, Pittsburgh manager Clint Hurdle said.
"I have not talked to Nick," Hurdle said prior to the Pirates taking their six-game winning streak into the opener of a four-game series against the Padres at Petco Park on Thursday night.
"I know he had the surgery yesterday [performed by] Dr. [David] Altchek. The recovery prognosis is 12 to 18 months. He's got people in-house to talk to like [Jameson] Taillon. I'm sure he'll be reaching out to a couple of other guys as well. I feel bad for the kid, the young man. This is never the way we draw it up for our young pitchers, however it is a reality of our game."
Taillon is another right-handed Pirates prospect, who had the same surgery, on April 9, 2014, also by Dr. Altchek. Taillon is working out at extended spring training in Bradenton, Fla., but was limited in his activity for a period recently because of a cut on his left foot, Hurdle said. Taillon threw three innings in an extended spring game on Thursday. Taillon, ranked No. 15 by MLB.com among the top prospects, hasn't pitched since 2013.
Kingham, the Bucs' No. 6 prospect and No. 68 overall according to MLBPipeline.com, was pitching at Triple-A Indianapolis in early May when he felt some pain in his elbow. He had a second opinion this week, and when doctors confirmed a tear in the ulnar collateral ligament, he had surgery. Kingham will miss the remainder of this season and at least a good part of 2016.
A fourth-round pick by the Pirates in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft, had made six starts this season with a 1-2 record and a 4.31 ERA and 32 strikeouts. He went into the season ranked by Baseball America as Pittsburgh's sixth best Minor League prospect.
Hurdle said Kingham could benefit from the experience.
"It depends on how he looks at it," Hurdle said. "He'll have to look at it as an opportunity, as a challenge that he needs to overcome and push forward from because there's more than substantial data on guys being able to get through this and still being able to have very, very long and successful careers."