Kevin Pillar couldn't have had a much better introduction to Dunedin fans.
The Blue Jays outfield prospect went 4-for-4 with four RBIs, falling a homer shy of the cycle in his home debut Thursday as the Class A Advanced Blue Jays topped the St. Lucie Mets, 5-2.
In four games with Dunedin, Pillar is batting .438 with three extra-base hits. The 23-year-old hit .322 with 29 extra-base knocks and 57 RBIs in 86 games for Class A Lansing.
"It's awesome," Pillar said. "You come in, you always want to make a good impression. You want people to know that you belong at this level. Having a night like this kind of sets the bar high, but I have high expectations for myself."
After collecting a single, a two-run double and an RBI triple in his first three at-bats, Pillar came to the plate in the seventh needing a homer for the cycle. He thought about trying to go deep, but with two outs and a runner on second, his priority was bringing the run home -- something he did by hitting a ground-ball single through the right side.
"Early in the count, I wasn't necessarily thinking about the home run, but a pitch that I could potentially hit a home run on," Pillar said. "But I didn't get a pitch I felt I could drive early in the count and once it got to two strikes, my main concern was trying to get that run in from second base."
Promoted to Class A Advanced on Tuesday, Pillar went hitless in his first six at-bats for the Blue Jays. He said he relaxed after a conversation with Dunedin hitting coach Ralph Dickenson.
"Naturally, you join a new team and you want people to know you belong there, so you try to do too much right away and try to prove [yourself] to these guys and earn their trust while you're playing," Pillar said. "Our hitting coach, Ralph, had that talk with me in the middle of my second game on the road trip and told me, 'You belong here, don't try to do too much. Just be you.'"
Pillar, who was selected in the 32nd round of the 2011 Draft, has had success wherever he's been so far in his brief career. In 60 games for Rookie-level Bluefield last season, he hit .347 with seven homers, 37 RBIs and a .911 OPS.
The product of Cal State-Dominguez Hills says he doesn't mind flying under the radar, but he does remember how teams passed him up on Draft Day.
"It's something that I've reminded myself of every day," Pillar said. "It's kind of just a chip I have on my shoulder, knowing I thought I was deserving of better with the numbers I put up out of college. It's something you can't change, you just want to change people's minds. I never really wanted attention. When you're out there, the round doesn't matter. I'm trying to be the best player on the field every time I play."