Konnor Pilkington Leans Into His Changeup

Armed with a big fastball when he joined the White Sox in 2018 as a third-round pick out of Mississippi State, Konnor Pilkington has put in long hours trying to develop other pitches.

His curveball and slider are still works in progress, but the 23-year-old lefthander’s changeup has become quite a weapon.

“I’ve been using my changeup a lot,” Pilkington said. “I get a lot of swings and misses with it and I’ve been getting a lot of weak contact.”

Through the first two months of the season at Double-A Birmingham, Pilkington recorded a 4.08 ERA with 52 strikeouts and 18 walks in 46.1 innings.

“I’m feeling good,” he said. “My arm, my body, everything’s feeling good, so I’m pretty happy.”

The 6-foot-3, 230-pound Pilkington will be even happier if his curveball and slider become as effective as his fastball and changeup.

“I’m working on them every day,” Pilkington said. “If I can get my breaking balls up to that level, that would be three or four good pitches I could roll out there.”

Pilkington was trying to get back up to speed after the pandemic wiped out the 2020 season. He was not invited to Chicago’s alternate training site in Schaumburg, Ill., but the year wasn’t a total loss.

“I dealt with it fine,” Pilkington said. “At the beginning, they told us to stay ready, be ready. I kept my routine, kept throwing and working out. Halfway through the summer it was kind of obvious we weren’t going to have a season, but I stayed on top of my game.”

Refining his changeup was the his biggest accomplishment,.

“I’ve already thrown it in every count this year,” he said. “I feel like I can locate that pitch almost, if not better, than my fastball. Righty or lefty, it doesn’t matter. I can throw it in there and get the hitter thinking about other stuff.”

Now producing at Double-A after spending 2019 at two Class A levels, Pilkington was tracking toward the major leagues.


— After being delayed by a work visa issue and missing the first six weeks of the season, outfielder Yoelqui Cespedes was assigned to High-A Winston-Salem.


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