Through The Prospect Porthole: Kyle Nicolas

2/9/23 By Craig W. Toth (aka @BucsBasement on Twitter)

Instant gratification.

Not to get too deep into a discussion concerning differences in generational status, and/or current the state of society, instant gratification often supersedes the want, need or ability to be patient.

Knee-jerk reactions.

This is often tied into the resulting emotions, which are directly related to whether or not a particular situation plays out in your favor in the short-term.

For example, Home-Grown Hero/All-Star/Gold-Glover/Silver Slugger/Most Valuable Player Andrew McCutchen was traded to the San Francisco Giants in January of 2018 for reliever Kyle Crick and some outfield prospect named Bryan Reynolds.

The spontaneous feedback was downright unpleasant.

Of course this is an extreme example; but, it also illustrates the response of fans, immediately following a move they have already decided is awful.

The same thing can be said about a trade that is looked upon favorably; often described as the fleecing of another team, or simply as one that seems to be coming at the opportune time. The Chris Archer trade would seem to fit into the later category; even if, not many would admit it right now.

In the former category-at least in the moment-was a trade that I examined the reaction to right before the New Year. At the time of the trade, Pirates Fans couldn’t believe Pittsburgh was able to get two prospects for Clay Holmes. Fast-forward approximately a year and following the DFAs of Diego Castillo and Hoy Park; where fans-and media members alike-have completely flipped to this being an absolute failure.

If the Pirates were left empty-handed, maybe I could see their point(s); or if many of them weren’t so adamant in their original and/or current stances, it really would be a big deal.

Although, these aren’t even the worst violations in the rewriting of history, simply cherry-picking what they choose to remember or acting like the door is closed on a trade when players acquired by the Pirates are still in their system.

You know, like the recent discussions I have seen circulating surrounding the Richard Rodriguez and Jacob Stallings Trades; and how we should have gotten so much more for RichRod, or that the Stallings deal is a bust because Zach Thompson was DFA’d and traded.

Are we just going to pretend that the whole league didn’t know that RichRod was into the soon to be banned sticky stuff? And, are we going to overlook that Ricky DeVito, Connor Scott and Kyle Nicolas are all set to be in the upper-Minors this season.

Bryce Wilson and Thompson may have been the guys we saw first, but this process isn’t over yet.

I am sorry for taking this much time to get to the focus of this post; and, I truly apologize to Kyle Nicolas for using this piece-which should have been one celebrating his potential-to voice my frustrations about what could be seen as an unrelated topic.

Nevertheless-on a potentially positive note-maybe more people will pay attention what this young man could do during the 2023 season, and hopefully beyond; albeit, some of you are probably still holding onto that grudge for losing Stallings.

Prior to being acquired by the Pirates, Nicolas was drafted in the Second Round-Competitive Balance Round B-out of the 2020 MLB June Amateur Draft out of Ball State University. Signed for the full slot value of $1,129,700, the former Cardinal suffered the fate of almost every other pick from that year; as he didn’t get to throw his first professional pitch until 2021.

When he finally got a chance to take the mound, Nicolas initially struggled slightly at High-A Beloit; posting a 5.28 ERA, with a 1.358 WHIP. To his credit control wasn’t really a major issue as he struck out 13 batters per nine, while walking 3.6.

After 59.2 innings, a somewhat aggressive promotion was in order, as he moved up to Pensacola. Across the final 39.1 innings of the season, Nicolas’ numbers looked better on the surface, as evidenced by his 2.52 ERA and 1.220 WHIP; but he did see his walk rate raise to 5.7 as he faced more advanced/patient batters.

At this point, Nicolas made the switch to the Pirates Farm System; landing firmly in Altoona for the entire season.

As I wrote in Arms,Arms,Arms, the now 23 year-old remained consistent in spite of ending up on the IL with a shoulder injury; finishing the year with a 3.97 ERA, a 1.30 WHIP and 101 strikeouts in 90.2 innings.

Currently, the consensus seems to be that he is destined to find his way into the bullpen due to his mid-90’s fastball and mid-80’s slider; which are both above average offerings. He does have a curve and a changeup, with the former being a head of the later; however, as of right now he is a still a starter.

Looking at the potential Indianapolis rotation, that has slid straight into the Minor League Six-Man, Nicolas should figure his way into a back of the rotation spot somewhere in between Mike Burrows, Quinn Priester, Luis Ortiz, Carmen Mlodzinski and Johan Oviedo.

Obviously this could change; yet that’s how I see it right now.

Published by Craig W. Toth

Former Contributing Author at, Co-Host of the Bucs in the Basement Podcast and life-long/diehard Pittsburgh Pirates Fan!

5 thoughts on “Through The Prospect Porthole: Kyle Nicolas

  1. It’s time to tell the Pirates and Nutting that they should start looking for a new Training site since Governor DeSantis has banned books on Roberto Clemente.


    1. No, he did not ban books on Clemente. I’m certain they will soon recognize the error and restore it to public school libraries. In DeSantis desire to remove sexually explicit, racial justice and CRT materials from the schools Clemete’s bio was removed in error. I’ve read the book and there is a section on racism which was probably a trigger in a keyword search for books to review.


  2. I think that I am the only living person that thought the Archer trade was good at the time. In reading sports blogs everyone still living thought that it was a horrible trade. Millions in PGH must have died and we don’t even know about it.


    1. You are correct that many people have changed their opinions disingenuously. I promise you there were decent numbers of us who saw the trade as patently and unambiguously asinine the moment it happened–before Baz was the PNL. I don’t hyperbolize when I say–as I said at the time–a GM who makes that trade has lost his way and should be shown the door immediately. That doesn’t contradict the thought I held (and also still do) that NH deserved a lot more credit than he seems to have gotten the last five or six years for what he did through 2016.

      A fourth-place team on its improbable hot streak trading three consecutive top prospects before any hit two years of service time for a guy who hadn’t managed a sub-4.00 ERA in three years and was 29 years old. Sixteen combined years of service in the forms of the back-to-back AAA Pitcher of the Year, a rookie All-Star, and a recent first-rounder generally believed as likely to surpass the other two … all for an innings-eater who never produced 4 bWAR (high quantity, lackluster quality) on a team extremely unlikely to crack the playoffs even with three of him. What could POSSIBLY go wrong?


  3. I appreciate the look at Nicolas, someone to keep an eye on for sure.

    As far as generations and the current state of society go, in my experience the patient Pirate fans looking beyond the current team are overwhelmingly Gen X and younger. For the Boomers and up, I get the instant gratification mentality in the sense that only so many years in life remain for them, but they also often either don’t understand the broader systems and realities at play (e.g., MLB has changed massively since 1979 in ways that make “how things used to be” impossible) or simply refuse to care beyond what serves them, and I dare say that applies more broadly to life in general.

    Trades are executed in a single moment (no matter how long the sides take to discuss them) with the information known at the time. This is indisputable. Thus I don’t believe it’s fair to apply hindsight when evaluating the wisdom of a trade, regardless of the reasons the involved parts provide better or worse value than expected. And that’s the key: What can be reasonably expected *in foresight* of the involved parts in the trade? It’ll be a range that varies based on age, floor and ceiling, contract status, etc. People can certainly disagree on the expectation–I can think a guy will hit .300/.450/.500 while the next person thinks he’ll hit .260/.380/.450 or whatever and we could very well both have reasonable points–but I just don’t believe there’s a good argument for applying hindsight (e.g., the rewriting and cherrypicking you noted) in evaluating a single trade.

    This does NOT contradict the existence of one team getting better value from a trade than the other (to your point of the full value result taking years to materialize), just doesn’t make sense to knock a move based on hindsight. It also does not mean kneejerk reactions. For example, when the Archer trade occurred, I didn’t need any further research to know it was foolish for a fourth-place team on an improbable and unsustainable hot streak to make a buy move. But I took my time examining stats, scouting reports, video, etc. before declaring (and maintaining since that fateful deadline day) it one of the worst trades in Pirates history and an easy candidate for worst in MLB last decade. I don’t think you’re necessarily saying one needs to give a trade time or otherwise is merely making a kneejerk reaction, but I figured I’d explain that nonetheless.

    Now, trades don’t happen in a vacuum, so in terms of evaluating the full picture of all the trades, signings, picks, assignments, coaching shuffles, and so much more a GM does, there has to be hindsight applied to some degree because different moves happen at different times and amount to the overall strategy.


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