From many, there will be one. And while there’s still no guarantee contending athletes will win their own state at this point in the season, a number of elite performers are making a case for Gatorade National Baseball Player of the Year consideration. Here’s the scoop on the latest top candidate.
Plum (Pittsburgh, Pa.)
Greatness Present: No one’s suggesting that Alex Kirilloff’s life is devoid of any real stress. It’s just that most people would happily trade their own worries for the prep baseball star’s current dilemma.
The teen must choose between attending the Major League Baseball draft to see where he could potentially begin his pro career, staying home to help his high school team try to win a state title. Call it a Catch-22. Although considering the way Kirilloff can rake at the plate, it’s really more of a “Hit-22,” isn’t it?
Literary puns aside, all signs point to the 6-foot-2, 220-pound lefty skipping out on his draft day invite at the MLB Network studios in New Jersey next month (an honor typically reserved only for projected first round picks) because the date would conflict with a possible berth in the state quarterfinals on June 9. Given that Plum (17-0) is the top-ranked in WPIAL Class AAAA, the team is poised for a deep postseason run.
“We want to win the WPIAL championship. That’s first and foremost,” Kirilloff told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “We have to take things in order, but I’d love to be playing in the state quarterfinals [June 9]. It’s not like I’m not going to get drafted if I don’t attend. It’s really a no-brainer for me. Our team worked all season, all winter and I’m not going to leave a state playoff game for the draft. There wouldn’t even be a discussion about it.”
Regardless of Kirilloff’s ultimate choice, his future is undeniably bright. Not only is he on the short list of high school players expected to be chosen early in the draft, he has also emerged as a top contender for the Gatorade Baseball Player of the Year award, both at the state and national level. The Liberty University signee’s stock is sky high at the moment (ranked No. 8 in the country by Perfect Game USA) as he is in the midst of a senior campaign in which he is batting a robust .563 with 22 RBIs and a 1.020 slugging percentage. A whopping 15 of his 27 hits have gone for extra bases.
Kirilloff has also been getting it done on the mound this season, logging 25 innings of work while striking out 39 batters and posting a 0.84 ERA.
With numbers like those, it’s no wonder he’s wanted in so many places at once.
“Alex is a five tool player on the field, he can do it all at an elite level,” said Plum High head coach Carl Vollmer. “His humility and maturity are unmatched at his age and he has a very bright future in baseball and life.”
Greatness Past: Kirilloff helped Plum to a 19-3 record and the WPIAL quarterfinals as a junior in 2015. A 2015 Under Armour All-American, He played in the 2015 Perfect Game All-American Classic at Petco Park in San Diego, winning the Home Run Challenge, 12-11, over California standout Blake Rutherford.
Greatness Future: Kirilloff has committed to Liberty University but is projected as an early selection in June’s Major League Baseball draft.
Make no mistake: The Gatorade State Baseball Player of the Year races aren’t over, and the National POY race is now heating up. Time remains for one standout student-athlete among thousands to rise to the top of our list. Check back for updates on the top contenders making their case.