Q&A with 5th Round Pick George Kontos

Don't let his numbers with Northwestern University fool you. George Kontos, who went just 3-10 with a 5.29 ERA this past season, was drafted in the 5th round of the 2006 MLB Draft. He sits down for a Q&A session to shed some insight on to his down year, what kind of stuff he possesses, who he'd compare himself to at the Major League level, and much more.

PinstripesPlus.com: What is going through your mind after being drafted by the Yankees?

George Kontos: I'm really excited right now and I'm looking forward to playing with the Yankees. I wasn't really expecting them to draft me, but once I got the call I was thrilled. I'm happy to be a part of an organization with so much history.

PinstripesPlus: So you and the Yankees didn't talk much before the draft?

Kontos: I had spoken to them a few times but they weren't one of the top teams that I expected to draft me.

PinstripesPlus: What pitches do you throw and at what speeds?

Kontos: I throw a fastball that goes in the low 90s that can reach 94, 95 MPH. I also work with a power slider that I use as a strikeout pitch, which sits in the low to mid-80's. I throw a curveball which is more of a pitch to get strikes. And I am working on a changeup right now that is coming along well.

PinstripesPlus: What was your favorite team growing up?

Kontos: I grew up on the north side of Chicago so I have always been a Cubs fan growing up.

PinstripesPlus: Who would you compare yourself to at the Major League level to give our readers and idea of who you're like?

Kontos: I would compare myself to Roger Clemens, because we have similar pitching mechanics. We also share the same competitive spirit and drive. I think we are both very dedicated to what we are doing on the mound.

PinstripesPlus: What is your best baseball moment and why?

Kontos: Probably playing in the Cape Cod league last summer. The whole experience was unbelievable. I pitched well and on a whole, it was an awesome experience.

PinstripesPlus: Are you looking to sign quickly and get your baseball career under way?

Kontos: Yeah, I am definitely excited to get under way. I'd like to sign quickly and get out there and play.

PinstripesPlus: How do you think you will handle the pressure pitching in New York?

Kontos: I think I'll handle it pretty well. You know pitching is pitching, you throw the ball to the glove, it's that simple. So I don't think any outside influences will affect me.

PinstripesPlus: Tell us about your pitching career at Northwestern?

Kontos: It's been a great experience. I've been able to learn under a great coach who has big league experience. I've grown a lot since high school and I've become a better pitcher. The numbers haven't been all that great, but the experience has definitely been beneficial.

PinstripesPlus: You struggled a bit with control this year, any reason for that?

Kontos: In my first start of the year, during the bullpen session before the game, I ripped off the nail of my middle finger. I went on to pitch that game but it turned into a pretty bad blister. I wasn't able to get on top of my fastball and I wasn't able to produce the right spin on my slider. It turned into a blood blister every game and I would have to pop it. I would rest it every week and then pitch that weekend and re-injure it. Finally we had a weekend off because of finals and the finger was able to fully heal. The skin was able to grow back and my second half of the season was like night and day compared to my first half. The walks went down and my strikeouts went up. Right now I think it is 100% and is almost back to normal.

PinstripesPlus: What are you working on right now to improve your pitching?

Kontos: I'm focusing on not trying to overthrow, letting my velocity take care of itself. I tend to overthrow and lose control of my pitches, but once I start to trust my velocity a lot more, I should be okay.

Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nPinstripesPlus.com: What is going through your mind after being drafted by the Yankees?
\r\n
\r\nGeorge Kontos: I'm really excited right now and I'm looking forward to playing with the Yankees. I wasn't really expecting them to draft me, but once I got the call I was thrilled. I'm happy to be a part of an organization with so much history.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: So you and the Yankees didn't talk much before the draft?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: I had spoken to them a few times but they weren't one of the top teams that I expected to draft me.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What pitches do you throw and at what speeds?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: I throw a fastball that goes in the low 90s that can reach 94, 95 MPH. I also work with a power slider that I use as a strikeout pitch, which sits in the low to mid-80's. I throw a curveball which is more of a pitch to get strikes. And I am working on a changeup right now that is coming along well.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What was your favorite team growing up?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: I grew up on the north side of Chicago so I have always been a Cubs fan growing up.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Who would you compare yourself to at the Major League level to give our readers and idea of who you're like?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: I would compare myself to Roger Clemens, because we have similar pitching mechanics. We also share the same competitive spirit and drive. I think we are both very dedicated to what we are doing on the mound.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What is your best baseball moment and why?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: Probably playing in the Cape Cod league last summer. The whole experience was unbelievable. I pitched well and on a whole, it was an awesome experience.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Are you looking to sign quickly and get your baseball career under way?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: Yeah, I am definitely excited to get under way. I'd like to sign quickly and get out there and play.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: How do you think you will handle the pressure pitching in New York?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: I think I'll handle it pretty well. You know pitching is pitching, you throw the ball to the glove, it's that simple. So I don't think any outside influences will affect me.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: Tell us about your pitching career at Northwestern?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: It's been a great experience. I've been able to learn under a great coach who has big league experience. I've grown a lot since high school and I've become a better pitcher. The numbers haven't been all that great, but the experience has definitely been beneficial.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: You struggled a bit with control this year, any reason for that?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: In my first start of the year, during the bullpen session before the game, I ripped off the nail of my middle finger. I went on to pitch that game but it turned into a pretty bad blister. I wasn't able to get on top of my fastball and I wasn't able to produce the right spin on my slider. It turned into a blood blister every game and I would have to pop it. I would rest it every week and then pitch that weekend and re-injure it. Finally we had a weekend off because of finals and the finger was able to fully heal. The skin was able to grow back and my second half of the season was like night and day compared to my first half. The walks went down and my strikeouts went up. Right now I think it is 100% and is almost back to normal.
\r\n
\r\nPinstripesPlus: What are you working on right now to improve your pitching?
\r\n
\r\nKontos: I'm focusing on not trying to overthrow, letting my velocity take care of itself. I tend to overthrow and lose control of my pitches, but once I start to trust my velocity a lot more, I should be okay.
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