CSUDH Star Returns to His Roots, Hopes to Play For Childhood Teamcsudhbulletin May 11, 2022 0 COMMENTS
Kevin Pillar started all four years at CSUDH. Photo by Ben Verbrugge.
By Ben Verbrugge, Staff Reporter.
One of the most successful athletes out of California State University, Dominguez Hills, will hopefully soon live out every athlete’s childhood dream of playing for their hometown team. A nine-year Major League Baseball veteran, Kevin Pillar signed a one-year contract with the Dodgers organization this off-season following the MLB lockout. The former Toro started this season in the minor leagues, but he is expected to get a shot on the major league roster at some point this year.
“When this opportunity with the Dodgers presented itself I know the 10-year-old in me is screaming with excitement… It will honestly be a dream come true to put that uniform on and say I was a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers and play in the stadium I grew up going to hundreds of games at,” said Pillar on May 7th while he was with the Oklahoma City Dodgers at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark.
Pillar is the all-time batting average leader at CSUDH. He took home a number of awards in every season he played during his Toro career that spanned from 2008-2011 and he set a Division-II record in 2010 by stringing together a 54 game hitting streak.
“If he makes it back to the big leagues on the Dodgers it would be amazing. I think he will be able to check off all the boxes. He has a great fan base here in [LA]… we are praying fervently that he gets an opportunity,” said Murphy Su’a, who coached Pillar during his time at CSUDH.
Pillar was most notably the starting center fielder for a dangerous Toronto Blue Jays team that made several deep playoff runs. During his time in Toronto, Pillar was heralded as one of the best fielders in the game. At center field, he won the Wilson Defensive Player of the Year Award in 2015 and the Fielding Bible Award in 2016, both given to the best fielder at each position.
Now Pillar hopes that the team he used to root for will be the perfect landing spot for the next chapter of his career.
“This isn’t how I envisioned it happening, but it’s also part of my journey and I never lose sight of the fact that I was a 32nd round draft pick out of Dominguez Hills… I think my baseball journey is always evolving and changing and this is just one step in it and it’s a step to prove that I belong again. When you are in the big leagues for a long time I think sometimes you lose sight of the fact, you forget how fortunate you are to be there,” said Pillar.
At 33-years-old, he is now considered an aging player in the minds of MLB general managers. Pillar has had a long successful stint in the majors, but he will have to continue to put in the work in order to prolong his career.
The Dodgers organization has built a reputation for having one of the best coaching and training staff in the league. They have been recognized over the past decade for revamping players’ careers that seem to have hit a standstill; Pillar is expected to be one of these players. He has performed extremely well in the minors this season, putting up an on-base plus slugging percentage of over 1.000, while leading the team in home runs, runs batted in, and runs scored. If that continues he will surely hear his name called as soon as reinforcements are needed.
Both Pillar’s current manager as well his former manager believe he will get his moment in LA.
“No doubt in my mind,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told the media in early April when asked if Pillar would see his opportunity. “Kevin is a Los Angeles guy… I wish I would have played with (him). He is a guy that I just love watching and admiring. To see him in a Dodger uniform, it just looks right. He is a major league player, fortunately for the Dodgers he’s open to taking an assignment to Triple-A, but there is no doubt in my mind that he will come up and help us at some point.”
“There are going to be times during the season when they are going to need a Kevin Pillar… There is gonna be a time, he is gonna get his opportunity. Hopefully, he gets up there and then he sticks,” said Su’a.
CSUDH students, staff, and alumni will have to wait a little longer to see Kevin Pillar don the LA blue at Dodgers Stadium. In his most recent game on May 6th, Pillar went four for four, with two home runs. While he is with the Dodgers Triple-A affiliate, his career can be followed at the Oklahoma City Dodgers website.