In 2017, Mississippi State lost nine pitchers throughout the course of the season, eight to injury and one after he was dismissed from the team.
Needless to say, it was a season of mixing and matching on the mound for Andy Cannizaro’s Bulldogs, but MSU managed to mix and match their way to a 40-27 overall record, a 17-13 conference record, a regional championship at home, and a trip to the Baton Rouge Super Regional. Not bad for a team that was essentially in all hands on deck mode from a pitching perspective all season long and was never quite sure what they were going to get on any given weekend.
One thing they could be sure of on the mound, however, was quality outings from ace Konnor Pilkington on Friday nights.
The lefty from Hurley, Mississippi, was nothing short of outstanding in 2017, particularly when you consider the circumstances. For starters, he was an absolute innings eater, which is of particular importance when you’re short-handed, as MSU was. In 17 starts, he tossed 108 innings. But beyond that, he consistently put his team in a position to win games, going 8-5 with a 3.08 ERA, a 111/47 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a .199 opponent batting average.
Pilkington was a true workhorse as a sophomore, which was a step up from his freshman season, when he was incredibly effective, if not for as many innings per outing. In 14 appearances, 11 of which were starts, he threw 43.1 innings, going 3-1 with a 2.08 ERA, a 42/15 strikeout-to-walk ratio, and a .229 opponent batting average.
For his performance in 2017, the improvement he made from 2016 to 2017, and his raw tools, Pilkington now finds himself among the elite draft prospects heading into the 2018 MLB Draft.
In their ranking of the top 100 prospects ahead of the 2018 draft, D1Baseball.com placed Pilkington 22nd, a ranking that puts him in position to be drafted in the first round after one more season like his first two on campus.
In the more immediate term, Pilkington will be back in Starkville trying to help the Bulldogs take one more step in the postseason, which would be a trip to the College World Series. If MSU was able to accomplish everything they did last season with all of those pitchers missing in action, the sky seems to be the limit for what they can do in 2018 when they are back at something close to full strength, and that will certainly be a lot of fun to watch.