Konnor Pilkington wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he packed his bags and set out from Mississippi on a 22-hour drive to Cape Cod this summer.
The former East Central ace and Sun Herald Player of the Year had just wrapped up a strong freshman campaign at Mississippi State. After the Bulldogs were swept by Arizona in the Starkville Super Regional, Pilkington looked to get a bit more work in the prestigious Cape Cod Baseball League, considered the premier wood bat summer league in the country.
When Pilkington crossed the Magnolia State’s borders and headed northeast the anticipation of what awaited ate at him. The aura that surrounds the CCBL was enough to excite the young southpaw.
“When I found out I was going it was unbelievable. I was like, really? It was an honor,” Pilkington said Wednesday. “You have all these legends and hall of famers who played in the Cape League and went on to the major leagues.
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“To put on the same jersey and play on the same team they played on was an opportunity and definitely an honor.”
When Pilkington stepped on the mound for the Brewster Whitecaps, it was clear he wasn’t on just any baseball diamond.
“Some games (the scouts) were really noticeable, others not so much,” he said. “Some games, you’d be in the middle of your windup, lift up your leg to drive forward and all of a sudden you’d see about 40 radar guns fly up. It was wild. Awesome.”
If Pilkington was nervous, he didn’t show it. After boasting a 3-1 record, 2.08 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 43 1/2 innings as a freshman at MSU, Pilkington was just as dominant on the Cape.
“The coaches did a really good job of calming us down and getting us to play loose,” Pilkington said. “They just wanted us to go out there, show our stuff and compete. That’s what I tried to do.”
In seven appearances, Pilkington posted a 2-1 record with 33 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings. His 1.37 ERA was the third-best in the CCBL and his overall performance earned the former South Mississippi star a spot on the All-League team.
“Pitching the entire summer as an 18-year-old, what Konnor Pilkington did for the Brewster Whitecaps was nothing short of phenomenal,” D1Baseball National Prospect Writer Frankie Piliere wrote. “Few pitchers of any age cruise though dangerous competition the way he did, let alone one his age.”
In a league that’s known to boost or crash a player’s draft stock, the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Pilkington set himself up exceptionally well for when it’s his turn to be drafted again.
Piliere wrote that Pilkington’s fastball bumped a whopping 94 miles-per-hour while he worked consistently around 90-92. He also mixed in a changeup and curveball.
“He induced groundball action and showed a very advanced feel, commanding three pitches extremely well for an 18-year-old,” Piliere wrote. “Keep a close eye on this young arm because he’s on his way to being a big name in the draft and college baseball worlds.”