The Malvern Prep junior infielder has been a versatile performer for the Friars this spring, playing a number of positions (including 16 innings as a pitcher), and has been a productive hitter, batting .359 (as of Monday) with a .458 on-base percentage. Malvern Prep baseball head coach Freddy Hilliard said, “Connor is a true all-around ballplayer…he hits, he fields, he pitches, he can run, and most importantly he competes every day to get better and help the team in any way he can. Connor has a quiet confidence about him. He’s not a big talker, but he has his teammates’ and coaching staff’s respect by the workmanlike attitude he brings each day.” Dillon also plays varsity soccer for Malvern Prep.
Q: You’ve recently been batting leadoff but have been moved around the batting order the past couple of years. Does your batting approach change when you are moved up or down in the lineup order?
A: My approach has not changed as I have been moved around the order. I have always tried to work counts and hunt for pitches that I can put in play hard. Being a smaller guy on the Malvern Prep team I am aware of my role as being someone who can get on base for the middle of the order to hit me in.
Q: You play mostly middle infield but can play just about any position in the field. What is your favorite position, and why?
A: My favorite position would be shortstop. Growing up that was the position I played most often and what I became used to. However, I have always been moved around in positions in my Malvern career and have grown comfortable at both second as well as third base. I am happy to play wherever I can help the team.
Q: How do you see your leadership role as a middle infielder (positioning other infielders, etc.)?
A: The middle infielders usually help direct the defense on the field and keep everyone focused and communicating so that we work together well as a team. It is very important to make sure guys know who is covering what base, where a throw is supposed to go and the middle infielders usually help with that part of the defense.
Q: What do you consider your best pitch?
A: I have had success pitching this year but I could not have done it without my teammates. I do not have too many strikeouts so far as I have been relying more on hitting my spots and getting weak contact and my teammates have been playing great defense behind me. I consider my best pitch my change-up. When I keep it down, it gets me ground balls as well as some swing and misses.
Q: What do you think is the strongest part of your game? What part of your game are you working on the most currently?
A: I believe the strongest part of my game is my ability to work counts and get on base but I am always working on all parts of my game as I can always be better. That being said, this year the part of my game I would like to improve upon the most would be getting more extra base hits. Being able to get into a scoring position quickly makes it that much easier for your team to score runs.
Q: Who is your favorite baseball player, and why?
A: My favorite baseball player is Chase Utley. I always liked watching him play growing up as a kid and I really admired the way he played the game. I have tried to model my game after him as he always played really hard and did whatever he could to help his team win.
Q: What is your favorite baseball park, and why?
A: My favorite baseball park would be Citizens Bank Park. It is the only professional ball park I have been too although I will be seeing Fenway Park this summer and am excited for that. With the Phillies being my favorite team, it led to their park becoming my favorite.
Q: You mentioned in the Friars’ Lantern that your dad was a big baseball guy when he was young, and that he has been one of your biggest influences for playing baseball. Tell us a little about his influence and what you’ve learned from him about baseball. Did he play baseball for a local school in high school/college?
A: My dad had always supported and pushed me in my baseball career as a kid, as well as many other things. He was always my coach when I was younger and I really enjoyed playing baseball with him supporting me. He helped me develop the love for the game that I have today. He played high school baseball up near Scranton.
Q: Who have been your biggest baseball mentors, and what was the most important thing each of them taught you?
A: One of my biggest baseball mentors would be Coach Hilliard. The most important thing he has taught me is about being a part of the team. He always preaches about doing your job and being able to do whatever it takes for your team to win.
Q: Tell us a little about your pre-game preparation the day of a game.
A: The day of a game I always try to get into and stay in a good mindset for the game. This is tough during a school day so I always try to listen to music or just take some time by myself before the game to get myself locked in. I know I will need to be focused during a game to be able to do my best for the team.
Q: You wear No. 14 for Malvern Prep – is there a reason you picked that number?
A: My “lucky” number has always been 4 but it was already taken so I grabbed 14 to at least keep a 4 in my number.
Q: You’ve attended Malvern Prep since ninth grade. What originally attracted you to Malvern Prep?
A: The thing that attracted me to Malvern Prep was that my brother Sean Dillon, a 2013 grad, attended Malvern and I had wanted to follow in his footsteps. He had always been a good role model and he definitely led me to a great decision in choosing Malvern.
Q: What colleges are among your current favorites? What do you think you might like to major in at college? Is there a particular career path that interests you at the present time?
A: Colleges among my favorites right now are Villanova, Bucknell and Boston College. I think I might like to major in Finance in college and maybe have a career in business.
Fun facts – Connor Dillon
Favorite book: The Great Gatsby.
Favorite TV show: The Office.
Favorite athlete: Chase Utley
Favorite pre-game pump-up song: Dreams and Nightmares, by Meek Mill.
Favorite team: Phillies.
Favorite place to visit: Ocean City, N.J.
Favorite pre-game meal: Spaghetti and meatballs.
Favorite color: Blue.
Family members: parents Brian and Stacey Dillon, brother Sean (recently graduated from Penn State University), sister Chelsey (attends the University of South Carolina).
(To be selected as Main Line Boys Athlete of the Week, a student-athlete must first be nominated by his coach.)