The Toronto Blue Jays selected Kevin Pillar's contract on Wednesday, making him the first player in the Bluefield Blue Jays era to get called up to the Major Leagues.
Pillar is scheduled to start in left field and bat eighth in Toronto tonight against the Boston Red Sox.
Pillar played for Bluefield in its inaugural season as a Blue Jays affiliate in 2011. He was a 32nd-round draft pick by Toronto that summer.
In his time with Bluefield, Pillar led the Appalachian League with a .347 batting average. He knocked seven home runs and drove in 37 runs that season. Along with winning the league batting title, he was selected as a 2011 Appalachian League All-Star.
Since leaving Bluefield, Pillar has climbed quickly up the ladder of Toronto affiliates. He started the 2012 season with Class A Lansing Lugnuts, where he was named the Midwest League MVP. He worked his was up to the Class A Advanced Dunedin Blue Jays later in the season. For the year, Pillar hit .323 with six home runs and 91 RBI.
Pillar was named a 2012 Topps Class A All-Star and chosen for the MiLB.com Toronto Blue Jays organizational All-Stars.
Pillar began 2013 with the Double-A New Hampshire Fisher Cats, and after 71 games was called up to the Triple-A Buffalo Bisons. In 123 Minor League games this year, Pillar hit .307 with nine home runs and 57 RBI.
The California native was called up after Toronto outfielder Colby Rasmus was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left oblique strain.
Pillar becomes the 178th player or coach in Bluefield's history to make the Major Leagues.
He is the third former Bluefield player to debut in the Major Leagues in 2013. Pitcher Scott Rice, who played for the Bluefield Orioles in 2001, debuted this season on Opening Day with the New York Mets after a 14-year run in the Minor Leagues.
Zack Clark, 2006 Bluefield Orioles pitcher, debuted with Baltimore this May.
Statement from Bluefield manager Dennis Holmberg, who has managed more than 200 eventual Major Leaguers in his career with the Blue Jays:
"I think you have to give Kevin Pillar a lot of credit. Here was a kid that came in with no expectations whatsoever. He signed for next to nothing with a chance to play, and he is a big example of someone coming in and making adjustments from college to pro ball, and working hard and playing hard every day.
"He plays with a sense of urgency, I'll tell you that. That's one of the things that we are trying to engrain in our players here. He was a little bit older and a little more adapt than some of these younger players that are playing here right now.
"I am just pleased that he is the first graduate from here in Bluefield. It gives hope to the other kids. Just two years ago, he was here roaming the outfield and winning an Appy League batting title.
"He went on through the ranks and had to prove himself at every level, and he did exactly that. I am very proud of Kevin, we all wish him the best of luck, and we'll see what he does in the big leagues tonight and moving forward.
"It's a great opportunity for him and gives good hopes to the common man, the players who weren't taken in the first or second rounds. We wish him the best of luck."