First Step In Climbing MLB Learning Curve Proving Elusive For Toronto Blue Jays' Kevin Pillar

By Thom Tsang
John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Now, a slump spanning 14 PA is hardly anything unusual in baseball, but when that slump happens to take place at the very beginning of prospect’s cup of tea in the bigs … well, let’s just say it’s bound to catch some (potentially unwanted) attention.

Kevin Pillar would have none of it if it were up to him, of course.

As the underdog prospect has said in interviews, he’s simply enjoying his first taste of the big leagues as the Toronto Blue Jays‘ everyday left fielder (where he’s did earn a nice outfield assist against Dustin Pedroia and the Boston Red Sox in just his second game); and most of all, he doesn’t feel particularly over-matched at this plate thus far.

The 14 outs that he’s made might disagree, though.

It’s not just the fact that he’s made the outs either, but the manner in which he’s made them. SSS caveats definitely apply here, and it’s not as though he’s going to remain hit-less through the rest of 2013 (unless the Blue Jays demote him now, anyway), but his inability to adjust to MLB pitching has thus far been somewhat staggering. With five strikeouts through those first 14 PA, the 24-year-old owns at 35.7 strikeout rate, flailing away at a 21.6 percent swinging strike rate.

Given his hit tool which has allowed him to succeed in the minor and earn his call-up, it’s more than likely that his swinging ways will normalize and some of the 60 percent of balls he puts into play will fall for hits; but even if he doesn’t want to admit to it right now, opposing pitchers are having a pretty easy time with the outfielder at the plate.

The good news, if there is any here, is that the Blue Jays have time to ride it out.

Yes, there is something of a competition going between Anthony Gose (2-for-12 since his call-up) Pillar for what might be a spot on the big league roster next season (that, or who the Blue Jays might be able to ship out as a trade chip), but the fact is that considering Pillar’s career as a pro baseball player thus far, that’s not something he’s likely to be concerned with.

After all, he was never supposed to make it to his level at 24; and sure, maybe the slump is poorly timed … but then again, that only sets him up for another redemption story when he finally does find his footing, no?

Thom is an MLB writer for Follow him on Twitter @BlueJaysRant, or add him to your network on Google

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