Left-Handed Starting Pitcher
SSS rank among all left-handed starting pitchers in the system: 3
2020 SSHP Top Prospect Ranking: 22
2019 SSS Top Prospect Ranking: 24
Konnor Pilkington, who had a great first two seasons with Mississippi State, had a down year as a junior that caused him to fall from first to second round consideration, in part because his fastball had lost a couple of ticks. His college stats are listed below:
2016: 2.08 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 43 IP, 38 H, 15 BB, 42 K
2017: 3.08 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 108 IP, 76 H, 47 BB, 111 K
2018: 4.47 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 102.2 IP, 106 H, 33 BB, 107 K
On the positive side, Pilkington continued to strike out hitters and reduce his walk ratio. Unfortunately, he became much more hittable, so an apparent lack of command may have been the issue.
With that said, when Pilkington slipped to the third round, the White Sox felt it was a no-brainer to select him. He pitched for the AZL White Sox and Great Falls and his numbers weren’t good, but a low number of innings (14) made it too small a sample size to judge.
Pilkington started the 2019 season with Kannapolis, and pitched terrific ball in his six starts. He posted a 1.62 ERA and 0.78 WHIP in 33 1⁄3 innings, allowing just 15 hits (.132 OBA) and 11 walks (8.5%) while fanning 42 (32.6%).
On May 11, Pilkington was promoted to Winston-Salem, where he struggled for most of the year. In 19 starts for the Dash spanning 95 2⁄3 innings, Pilkington compiled a 4.99 ERA and 1.44 WHIP by allowing 99 hits (.270 OBA) and 39 walks (9.4%) while striking out 96 (23.2%). While those numbers certainly weren’t pretty, he did show significant improvement over his final six outings: 2.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 31 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 32 K. Another important thing to note is that Pilkington was more than two years younger than the average Carolina League player.
Pilkington doesn’t have any exceptional tools. MLB Pipeline grades his changeup as 55, which fades against righthanders, while his slurvy curveball and slider are both graded at 50. MLB also stated that Pilkington’s fastball has run up to 96 mph in the past, but now tops out at 94 while generally running 87-93. His control is graded at 50 but perhaps could be better, as Pilkington sometimes rushes through his delivery and finishes stiff and upright. That could be a factor in his lack of command and velocity.
Because Pilkington finished relatively strong in 2019, there’s a possibility he could begin 2021 with Birmingham. However, it seems likelier that Pilkington returns to Winston-Salem with a shot for an early promotion if he starts the season well.