Konnor Pilkington Providing Promising Results
Michael Kopech and Dane Dunning are out for the rest of the season after having Tommy John surgery. Alec Hansen is back pitching out of the bullpen after being hampered by a strained right forearm last year. All in all, the White Sox's minor league pitching depth has been severely tested, but Konnor Pilkington is helping to ease some of the sting.
A third-round draft pick in 2018, Pilkington pitched 102.2 innings as a junior at Mississippi State before signing with the White Sox. That heavy workload in his final year of college may help explain his inauspicious professional debut.
Throwing a combined 14 innings in the Rookie-level Arizona and Pioneer leagues, Pilkington gave up 11 earned runs on 21 hits and five walks in 14 innings before shutting it down for the rest of the season. The 21-year-old lefthander grabbed some much-needed rest over the winter, however, and returned ready to go for spring training.
"The offseason definitely did me well,” Pilkington said. "I feel stronger than ever. I feel more flexible. I feel really just refreshed. Going through spring training and minicamp and through the beginning of the regular season, I feel like I did on Day 1. There's no fatigue or anything. I'm just steady rolling."
And steady rising.
Pilkington opened the season with low Class A Kannapolis and was 1-0, 1.62 in six starts while striking out 42 hitters in 33.1 innings. The impressive debut earned the 6-foot-3, 225-pound lefthander a promotion to high Class A Winston-Salem on May 11, but in addition to being recharged, it was a refined pitch that helped Pilkington make a quick jump up the minor league ladder.
"During spring training, we really worked on trying to develop a better changeup,” he said. "I feel like I've really got a handle on that now.”
Pilkington's fastball is the offering that helped make him such a high draft pick, but it's his full arsenal of pitches—in addition to his fastball—that will be the key to his continued success.
"My thing is just being able to get ahead and being able to move my fastball in and out,” he said. "Lately, I've been really successful at riding the fastball in and up later in the count. The big thing is getting ahead of hitters. That's what I'm trying to do, get ahead of the hitters quick and as often as possible."
— After playing in 23 games with Double-A Birmingham, outfielder Micker Adolfo had season-ending arthroscopic elbow surgery. Adolfo, who was hitting .205/.337/.295 in 78 at-bats before being sidelined, previously had Tommy John surgery in 2018.
— After a long, 76-game wait, Nick Madrigal finally hit his first professional home run. Playing for high Class A Winston-Salem, the 2018 first-round pick hit a solo home run against Myrtle Beach on May 16. Madrigal is hitting .267/.335/.367 with 11 extra-base hits and nine stolen bases through 38 games with the Dash.