SSS rank among all left-handed starting pitchers in the system: 2
Pilkington had been considered one of the top collegiate southpaws in the country, since the beginning of his playing days with Mississippi State. After his solid sophomore season and terrific runs in the Cape Cod League and Team USA in 2017, Pilkington’s star couldn’t have shone brighter. In that sophomore season, he posted a 3.08 ERA and 1.14 WHIP in 108 innings, allowing just 76 hits (.199 OBA) and 47 walks compared to 111 strikeouts.
However, in 2018 with the Bulldogs, Pilkington compiled a 4.47 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over 102 2⁄3 innings, as he allowed 106 hits (2.69 OBA) and 33 walks compared to 107 strikeouts. As a result of his junior slump, which saw him slip from 96 to 92 mph on the radar gun, he fell to the third round of the draft, where the White Sox were happy to snap him up with a $650,000 signing bonus.
Pilkington struggled during his eight starts with AZL and Great Falls after signing. In a small sample size totaling 14 innings, he surrendered 21 hits (.344 OBA), five walks (7.4%) and 11 strikeouts (16.2%) while posting a 7.07 ERA and 1.86 WHIP.
According to MLB Pipeline, Pilkington’s delivery got off-line for much of the time this season, which caused a decline in velocity. He worked mostly at 88-91 mph and topped out at 93 this spring, but he has reached 96 mph in the past and still succeeds at lower velocities because his size and high three-quarters arm slot create a steep downhill plane. He has good feel for his advanced change, and also uses a slider that can get slurvy at times.
Pilkington got the promotion to Kannapolis in 2019, beginning his first full pro season. He seems to have put his 2018 struggles far behind him. It took just five weeks (six starts, 1.62 ERA, 0.780 WHIP) for Pilkington to earn a promotion to Winston-Salem, where he’s cooled off to 0-1 in two starts, with a 4.82 ERA and 1.607 WHIP.
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