Next year could be a special one for the Coast’s baseball resume.
For the first time since 2012 a former South Mississippi baseball standout could be plucked in the first round of the MLB Draft.
Just a few days out from the conclusion of the 2017 MLB Draft, MLB.com writer Jim Callis released his “way-way-too-early” top 10 projections for the 2018 MLB Draft.
Listed at No. 9 is former East Central standout and current Mississippi State ace Konnor Pilkington.
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“2018's top southpaw has a strong frame, a fastball that reaches 95 mph and a pair of potential solid secondary pitches in his curveball and changeup,” Callis wrote.
It’s worth mentioning that 2018 could be a big year for Mississippi in general as Callis projects Hattiesburg stud and Ole Miss commit Joe Gray to go fifth overall.
If Callis’ projections holds true, Pilkington would be the first Coast product to go in the first round since Stone’s D.J. Davis was selected by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012, according to Baseball-Reference.com.
Former St. Stanislaus southpaw and MSU reliever Jacob Lindgren came close to the first round in 2014 when he was selected 55th overall; Harrison Central’s Bobby Bradley (3rd), George County’s Justin Steele (5th), Gulfport’s Jonathan Holder (6th), Picayune’s Braxton Lee (12), GCHS’s Mason Robbins (25), Pascagoula’s Chase Nyman (32nd) and Gulfport’s Daniel Keating (39) all went later in the ’14 draft in what turned out to be a banner year for South Mississippi baseball players. (Keating opted to turn down the Pittsburgh Pirates and attend Southern Miss.)
Pilkington was impressive in 2017 as Mississippi State’s ace. The left-hander was 8-5 with a 3.08 ERA and was among the SEC’s leaders in strikeouts with 111 in 108 innings. He also held opponents to a .199 batting average. His performance caught enough attention that the former Hornet was invited to play for USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team this summer.
It’s just the latest big-time honor for Pilkington, who spent last summer playing in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League for the Brewster Whitecaps.
If things continue to trend up for Pilkington, it’s certainly possible to expect the former Sun Herald Player of the Year to have a short wait on draft day next June.