Get to know the Cleveland Indians newly acquired LHP Konnor Pilkington
The Cleveland Indians traded Cesar Hernandez yesterday in exchange for left-handed pitching prospect Konnor Pilkington. Unfamiliar with the name? Confused why his first name begins with a ‘K?’ Same. Let’s get to know the newest addition to the Cleveland organization. And yeah, after that 2021 draft full of pitchers, the Tribe decided to find one more.
The White Sox drafted Pilkington in the third round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of Mississippi State with the 81st overall pick. With the Bulldogs, he was a 2017 USA Collegiate National Team member after his junior year.
The team has been fairly aggressive in his promotion process. After spending eight games in rookie ball, he was assigned to Chicago’s full season single-A ball where he dominated. Pilkington dominated in six games with the Kannapolis Intimidators, recording a 1.62 ERA through 33.1 innings and tallying a .132 opposing batting average.
Out of college, his scouting report credited his arm slot as the reason for getting batters out despite the drop in velocity. The report states that his slot creates a “steep downhill plane” and that he has a consistent delivery.
He finished out 2019 in advanced-A ball. After falling victim to the 2020 pandemic-riddled season, the White Sox sent the lefty to Double-A Birmingham. This season, he holds a 3.48 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP while striking out 71 batters. He’ll be assigned to the Akron Rubberducks and join the rotation alongside Logan T. Allen, Adam Scott and company. Listed as the White Sox’s No. 21 prospect, his ETA on Baseball America is next season.
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He’s a big guy, clocking in at 6-foot-3 and 230 lbs. He has a career 9.66 strikeouts-per-nine innings rate and walks just over three batters every nine innings. Fangraphs ranks his fastball and curveball as his best pitches, with his slider and changeup not too far behind. He did have a mid-90s fastball, but it seemed to top out in the low 90s during his final year with Mississippi State.
The Indians will have to protect him ahead of the Rule 5 draft — the White Sox notified him they didn’t intend on adding him to the 40-man roster. He is allowing a few more home runs in Double-A, and his FIP has increased from 2019, but he’s another big farm hand that could come up and help in a spot-start scenario in the second half of 2022.
It is possible that the Indians don’t add him to the 40-man roster and this trade becomes a quick wash by December. Cleveland already has five starters protected in the minor leagues.
Expect him to finish out the season with Akron, polishing his pitches and working to shrink his ERA. I still don’t know why it’s Connor with a ‘K,’ but the 23-year old will look good in those Rubber Duck baby blues.