Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Kevin Pillar Will Be Making His MLB Debut

Kevin Pillar, selected in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft, will be added to the MLB roster and will make his MLB soon, perhaps tonight versus the Red Sox.

To clear room on the roster, both 40-man and active roster, the Blue Jays have traded former fan favourite Emilio Bonifacio to the Kansas City Royals for PTBN or cash.

Pillar, 24, is 6' OF capable of playing all 3 spots effectively, is perhaps best served as a LF in the mold of Reed Johnson.

Kevin Pillar, throughout his minor league career, has had a bit of a split in favour of left-handed pitching. He has a .302 average with 29% of hits going for extra bases versus righties (878 AB) and a .367 average with 33% going for extra bases versus lefties (362 AB).

Pillar has never been a highly thought of prospect, but has whizzed through the minor leagues playing just 311 games while working his way up to AAA Buffalo this season.

The Scouting Book had this to say about Pillar in February 2013:

"A tough, gritty outfielder who's always outplayed scouting evaluations, Blue Jay prospect Kevin Pillar will probably grind and hustle all the way to MLB very soon. While old-school scouts still scoff at his mediocre tools, results don't lie: Pillar shoved doubters aside by slashing .328/.378/.439 and swiping 59 bags at high-A Dunedin last season. His on-base skills look legit, as his walk rate is good and seems to be getting even better as he matures. Look for him as an injury fill-in candidate in 2013, and a fourth outfield option for the year after."

Kind of spot on with their call there. He will be making his debut due to the injuries of Melky Cabrera and now Colby Rasmus. 

John Sickels at Minor League Ball had this to say about Pillar in the Blue Jays top 20 prospect list:

"15) Kevin Pillar, OF, Grade C+: Hit .328/.378/.439 with 59 steals despite a mediocre toolset. Great instincts for the game. If you could stick his head on Jake Marisnick's body, you'd have a superstar. Pillar is probably a fourth outfielder but an interesting player."

Another fourth OF comp, but some nice remarks on his ability.

Batter's Box, a Blue Jays based blog focusing on Minor League action had this to say about Pillar during their 2012 prospect rankings:

"Pillar’s claim to fame before being drafted by the Blue Jays was a 54 game hitting streak he compiled during his senior season at Division II California State University-Dominguez Hills.  Selected in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft, the 6-foot, 200 pound right-handed hitter has continued to make his presence felt with the bat.  He endured such a rough start to his pro career in Bluefield last year that he asked to have his batting average removed from the scoreboard.  Pillar rebounded quite nicely to finish the year with a .347 batting average which landed him a berth to the Appalachian League All-Star team.  His season was not done yet as he was called up to Vancouver for its playoff run.  All he did was record at least one hit in the five games he played, batting .391 with a homer to help the C’s win the league title.

Pillar continued his hitting exploits with Lansing in 2012, highlighted by a 6-for-6 game in May that was capped off by a grand slam.  It was performances like those that convinced the Midwest League to hand him its Most Valuable Player award, even though he was called up to Dunedin in July.  He continued to hit for a high average in the Florida State League but he drew six percent fewer walks than he did in Lansing.  On the flip side, he struck out four percent less from Lansing to Dunedin.  One area that Pillar needs to improve with the bat is his power.  Last season, he posted an isolated power average of .187 with Bluefield.  That evaporated this season to .128 in Lansing and .091 in Dunedin.
Pillar’s running game took a quantum leap forward.  After stealing just eight bases last year, he swiped 51 bags this season – 35 of them with Lansing.  That speed has served him well in the outfield as he has played all three positions but is expected to settle into a corner. 

Named the best hitting prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America, Pillar has a .331 career minor league average to date.  He emulates his game after Pete Rose and Cal Ripken Jr.   Turning 24 on January 4, Pillar is on target to join New Hampshire to start the 2013 season.  A good showing there could lead to a promotion to Triple-A Buffalo, and perhaps a trip to Toronto before the season is out. Currently, he is playing in the Arizona Fall League."

They nailed the promotion to Buffalo and a little bad luck due to injuries in the OF, a promotion to Toronto. Also, some nice back story stuff.

Baseball America had this to say about Pillar, their 21st rank prospect, in their 2013 Prospect Handbook:

"Pillar set an NCAA Division II record with a 54-game hit streak as a Junior in 2010 and a Cal State Dominguez Hills mark with a .367 career average. After four seasons with the Toros, he signed for $1,000 and kept hitting as a pro. He batted .347 in his pro debut and a system-best .323 last season, when he won the Midwest League MVP award. Pillar easily makes contact at the plate, thanks to a short swing and quiet approach with few moving parts. He has good feel for the barrel and provides gap power. Pillar used solid speed and keen instincts to steal 51 bases in 60 tries in 2012. His quickness and savvy also serve him well in the outfield, where he can play all three positions. He has average arm strength and accuracy. Pillar is already 24 and will have to keep proving himself, but he looks like he can serve as at least a fourth outfielder in the big leagues. He's ready for Double-A and could get to Toronto by season's end is he continues to produce."

Some more back story, including his signing bonus ($1,000!!), along some more spot on predictions of his continued quick rise to the MLB.

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