Pillar in May 2012
|Toronto Blue Jays – No. 11|
January 4, 1989 |
West Hills, California
|Bats: Right||Throws: Right|
|August 14, 2013 for the Toronto Blue Jays|
(through June 9, 2014)
|Runs batted in||15|
Pillar was an All-American center fielder in college. He set the NCAA Division II record with a 54-game hitting streak in 2010, and established his school's all-time record with a career batting average of .367. Pillar was drafted by the Blue Jays in the 32nd round (979th overall) of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft.
In 2011 he batted .347, winning the Appalachian League batting title in his first minor league season. In 2012 he batted .323, while stealing 51 bases, and was named the Midwest League MVP. In his minor league career, he batted .321. He made his major league debut for the Blue Jays in August 2013. In December 2013, Baseball America identified him as the "Best Hitter for Average" among Blue Jays' prospects.
Pillar, who is Jewish, was born in the Los Angeles district of West Hills to Mike and Wendy Pillar. His mother is Jewish and his father is Christian, and Pillar was Bar Mitzvah'd. His nickname is K.P.
In high school at Chaminade College Prep, where, he played outfield on the baseball team, point guard on the basketball team, and as running back, slot receiver, outside linebacker, and kick/punt-returner on the football team he never came off the field. He earned first-team all-league honors in each sport. In baseball, he batted just under .400 for his high school career, with a high of .463 in his senior year.
He attended California State University, Dominguez Hills, in Carson, California. There, he majored in mathematics and business, and played center field for the Toros baseball team, for which he was an All American. As a freshman in 2008 he hit .379, the fifth-highest average in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (as he was also third in the league with 20 doubles, and fifth in the league with 17 steals), and was named to the All-CCAA 2nd team. As a sophomore in 2009 he batted .329 and was again named a 2nd-Team All-CCAA selection, while stealing 18 bases in 19 attempts.
In 2010, as a junior he set an NCAA Division II record at the school, with a 54-game hitting streak, five games more than the prior record. During his streak he came to the plate eight times needing a hit in his final at bat, and got one. Batting .379 for the season, he was also named a Rawlings/ABCA National Gold Glove Award winner, ESPN the Magazine/CoSIDA Academic 1st-team All-District, an Honorable Mention All-American by NCBWA, 1st-team Daktronics/NCAA, NCBWA and Rawlings/ABCA All-West Region, and 1st-team All-CCAA selection, giving him three All-CCAA honors in three years. In his senior year, he batted .369 with a 1.000 fielding percentage. 
Pillar finished his college career as the school's all-time batting leader, with a .367 average.
Draft and minor leagues
Pillar was drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in the 32nd round (979th overall) of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft. His signing bonus of $1,000 was so little, after taxes, that he needed to ask his Mom for some additional money so that he could have enough to buy an iPhone. When he was promoted to the majors two years later, Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos said: "Clearly ... and I say that respectfully, we got him wrong. Just because, if he has a chance to get to the big leagues, you don't wait for the [32nd] round to select him."
Pillar played for the Bluefield Blue Jays in 2011, and batted .347 over 60 games, winning the Appalachian League batting title and leading the organization in batting average. He was named an Appalachian League All-Star. He holds the team's all-time records for batting average, on-base percentage (.377), and slugging percentage (.534). He was then called up to play for the Vancouver Canadians in its playoff run, and batted .391 to help the team win the Northwest League title.
Pillar began the 2012 minor league season with the Single-A Lansing Lugnuts of the Midwest League, where he recorded a .322 batting average and stole 35 bases in 86 games. He was then promoted to the Advanced-A Dunedin Blue Jays, where he batted .323 and stole 16 bases, in 42 games. His total of 51 steals in 2012 was the second-most in the Blue Jays organization, and 10th-most in the minor leagues. Considered an excellent defensive player, he played all three outfield positions. He was named the 2012 Midwest League Most Valuable Player, after also garnering mid-season and post-season All Star honors, and being named the best hitting prospect in the Midwest League by Baseball America. He was also named a Topps Class A All Star and an MiLB.com Organization All Star. He then played for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League, batting a team-leading .371.
Pillar was promoted to the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats before the start of the 2013 minor league season, and played 71 games for the team. He was one of the most consistent hitters in the league and considered a top defensive outfielder "with great instincts, a powerful and accurate throwing arm," and showed speed on the base paths. Richie Hebner, his hitting coach, said: "He is the best player in the league. He does everything well." He batted .313 with 5 home runs and 30 RBIs, and was leading the Eastern League with 95 hits, before being promoted to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. Through his first 11 games, Pillar batted .391 and had more doubles (8) than singles (7). During his time in Buffalo he had more extra-base hits (27) than any other player in AAA over that timespan. In 123 games between New Hampshire and Buffalo, he had 39 doubles and 155 hits which, at the time of his August 2013 promotion, were the second- and third-highest totals, respectively, in the minor leagues. Buffalo manager Marty Brown said: "I am impressed with how he has swung the bat, for sure. But he also always seems to be in the right place at the right time defensively. He's a very heads-up baserunner."
Pillar's play throughout his minor league career led to him being ranked the 16th-best prospect in the Blue Jays organization by MLB.com in July 2013. Pillar had not previously ranked in the top 20 on MLB.com's rankings. Baseball America ranked him as the team's 12th-best prospect.
In his minor league career, he batted .321 with a slugging percentage of .466 and an OPS of .832 in 311 games. In December 2013, Baseball America designated him the "Best Hitter for Average" among the Blue Jays' prospects.
Toronto Blue Jays (2013–present)
Pillar was called up to the Blue Jays for the first time in his career on August 14, 2013, after center fielder Colby Rasmus was placed on the 15-day disabled list and utility player Emilio Bonifacio was traded to the Kansas City Royals. He was the first member of Toronto's 2011 draft to reach the majors. Pillar can play all three outfield positions, and general manager Anthopoulos considers him a "legit center option".
Pillar made his major league debut that night against the Boston Red Sox. He was given uniform number 22, which was formerly worn by pitcher Jimmy Key, among others. He was 0-for-4 with one strikeout, and made a superb, head-long, diving catch in the outfield in the Blue Jays' 4–3 extra innings win. Pillar recorded his first career hit and RBI in a doubleheader against the New York Yankees on August 20. On August 24, Pillar hit his first career home run, a three-run shot off Houston Astros starter Brad Peacock.
Pillar was optioned to the Buffalo Bisons on March 22, 2014. He was called up to the Blue Jays on May 13, after Jonathan Diaz was optioned to Triple-A. Pillar had reached base safely in a league-high 26 straight games with Buffalo, and posted a triple slash of .305/.344/.461 in 34 games, while leading the league in doubles and leading Triple-A with an 18-game hitting streak. On June 9, Pillar hit a walk-off single, scoring Erik Kratz to give the Blue Jays a 5–4 win over the Minnesota Twins.
- Kaplan, Ron (October 27, 2008). "JML update, Aug. 15 » Kaplan’s Korner on Jews and Sports". New Jersey Jewish News. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Ian Kadish (March 18, 2013). "Kevin Pillar: the best Jewish player you’ve never heard of". Jewish Baseball News. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Fine, Jeremy (February 27, 2004). "Welcome to the Show Kevin Pillar". The Great Rabbino. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- "Kevin Pillar Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- "The Road Less Traveled for Kevin Pillar | New Hampshire Fisher Cats News". Milb.com. May 8, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- "Pillar makes impact after call up to Blue Jays". Jewishtribune.ca. September 10, 2013. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
- Larry Hook (November 6, 2012). "Cal State Dominguez Hills Athletics – Kevin Pillar – In the Heart of Michigan". Gotoros.com. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- "Cal State Dominguez Hills Athletics – Kevin Pillar – 2010 Baseball". Gotoros.com. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Mark Newman (August 19, 2013). "Blue Jays' Kevin Pillar knows first hit is the toughest". mlb.com. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- "Kevin Pillar Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved August 21, 2013.
- David Driver (May 21, 2013). "Cal State Dominguez Hills Athletics – Former Toro Kevin Pillar Off to Great Start in Double-A Debut". Gotoros.com. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- Gregor Chisholm and Evan Peaslee (August 14, 2013). "Pillar, 32nd-round pick in '11, called up to Majors". bluejays.com. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- Sonoma Sea Wolves Media Guide. 2009. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- "Kevin Pillar: Just a Fourth Outfielder?". Bluebird Banter. August 14, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- Ben Bolch (May 5, 2010). "For Kevin Pillar, the hits just keep on coming". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- "Cal State Dominguez Hills Athletics – Kevin Pillar – 2011 Baseball". Gotoros.com. January 4, 1989. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Seiner, Jake (June 30, 2013). "Bisons' Pillar excelling in Triple-A trial". Milb.com. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- Kyle Matte (July 19, 2013). "Kevin Pillar and the Reed Johnson Comparison". Jays Journal. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- "Kevin Pillar Minor League Statistics & History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- Gregor Chisholm and Evan Peaslee (August 14, 2013). "Pillar, 32nd-round pick in '11, called up to Majors". mlb.com. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- Michael Grange (August 14, 2013). "Grange: Pillar's rise to the majors defies all odds". Sportsnet.ca. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- Eric Sondheimer (November 9, 2011). "Baseball: Ex-Chaminade player Kevin Pillar to receive honor". latimes.com. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- "2013 Prospect Watch". mlb.com. May 24, 2013. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- "Kevin Pillar Promoted to Toronto | New Hampshire Fisher Cats News". Milb.com. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Blue Jays 2012 Top Prospects: 20–11. Batter's Box Interactive Magazine. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- 2012 Bluefield Blue Jays Media Guide. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- "Prospect Preview – Kevin Pillar | New Hampshire Fisher Cats News". Milb.com. March 4, 2013. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Lenny Padilla (November 1, 2011). "Former Whitecaps manager Matt Walbeck watches his old team sputter on offense in loss to Lugnuts". MLive.com. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- "Prospects: Best Tools: 2012 Minor League Best Tools". Baseball America. August 8, 2012. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
- "Winter League Wrap-Up | New Hampshire Fisher Cats News". Milb.com. November 16, 2012. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Jared Macdonald (August 16, 2013). Kevin Pillar: From Bluefield to Blue Jays. (Interview). Jays Prospects. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- Jessica Quiroli (May 17, 2013). "Jays Prospect Kevin Pillar Leads With Marked Passion". High Heels On The Field. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Wray, Michael (July 1, 2013). "Prospect Kevin Pillar Putting Up Big Numbers In Buffalo". JaysJournal.com. Retrieved July 2, 2013.
- "Blue Jays promote Pillar, recall Kawasaki". mlb.com. August 14, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- Elliott, Bob (August 14, 2013). "32nd-rounder Kevin Pillar makes bigs". Toronto Sun. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- Wagner, John (July 29, 2013). "IL notes: Pillar has something to prove | International League News". Milb.com. Retrieved August 16, 2013.
- Chisholm, Gregor (July 26, 2013). "Pitching remains strength in Blue Jays system". MLB.com. Retrieved July 26, 2013.
- "Gameday, August 16". Minor League Ball. July 30, 2013. Retrieved August 19, 2013.
- Clint Longenecker (December 13, 2013). "Toronto Blue Jays Top 10 Prospects". Baseball America. Retrieved March 17, 2014.
- Gregor Chisholm and Evan Peaslee (August 14, 2013). "Rasmus lands on DL with strained left oblique". Toronto.bluejays.mlb.com. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- Chisholm, Gregor (August 14, 2013). "Bonifacio dealt to KC for cash or a player to be named". MLB.com. Retrieved August 14, 2013.
- Lott, John (August 14, 2013). "Blue Jays' Kevin Pillar ends a day of 'wow moments' with win over Red Sox". The National Post. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- Chisholm, Gregor; Peaslee, Evan (August 14, 2013). "Pillar, 32nd round pick in '11, called up to majors". MLB.com. Retrieved August 18, 2013.
- "Thursday's Three Things: Rajai Davis, Esmil Rogers, and Kevin Pillar". Bluebird Banter. August 15, 2013. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- Scott MacArthur (August 15, 2013). "Pillar reflects; Johnson's MRI results". TSN. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
- Chisholm, Gregor (August 25, 2013). "After umps review play, Pillar tallies first career home run". MLB.com. Retrieved August 25, 2013.
- "Aaron Sanchez, Kevin Pillar, and Dan Johnson Latest Sent Down By Toronto Blue Jays". Jays Journal. Retrieved March 22, 2014.
- Davidi, Shi (May 13, 2014). "Jays call up Pillar while Rasmus nurses injury". Sportsnet. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
- "Hot-hitting Bisons OF Pillar gets call to Toronto". The Buffalo News. Retrieved May 13, 2014.
- "Pillar hits walk-off single as Jays defeat Twins". Sportsnet. June 9, 2014. Retrieved June 9, 2014.
- Career statistics and player information from MLB, or Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- Kevin Pillar on Twitter
- "Interview with Kevin Pillar — Arizona Fall League Standout", Matt Kaiser, November 2, 2012
- "Interview: Kevin Pillar: How the Toronto Blue Jays’ Prospect is Raking His Way Through the Minor Leagues," Andrew Martin, Seamheads.com, March 27, 2013