Change The Focus For Kontos

When George Kontos struggled in Tampa this past season it was more or less due to inconsistencies with his curveball and changeup. With his curveball coming around for him by season's end, he went to the Hawaiian Winter League looking to further develop his changeup and he says that progress has been coming quickly for him so far.

"It's going pretty well actually," George Kontos said after striking out eight batters on Tuesday. "I'm throwing the ball pretty well. My main focus coming down here was just keep working on the changeup and get comfortable throwing it because when I throw it well it's definitely a good pitch for me.

"I just wasn't all that confident in throwing it but down here I've been throwing it a lot and I've been getting a lot more confident with it, and I'm throwing it a lot more."

Normally adhering to the ten percent rule during the minor league season, a guideline where at least ten percent of his pitches in any one game would be changeups, he has bumped up that percentage in Hawaii this offseason.

"I threw 80 pitches today [Tuesday] and I'm guessing maybe 15 or 16 of them were changeups," he revealed. "It's definitely getting a lot of swings and misses. The more I throw the more swings and misses I'm getting with it. It's definitely encouraging and I definitely think I can use it as a strikeout pitch."

Allowing him to focus more on developing his changeup was the enhancements made to his curveball prior to heading west. Once an inconsistent pitch for him, Kontos said his curveball has become much more reliable.

"The curveball is pretty much there," he admitted. "Every game I've been there, I've been throwing it. It's been working real well. I've been throwing it for first-pitch strikes, in 1-1 counts, and I've also been using it to finish guys off. It's been here the whole time I've been here so it's going well with that pitch also."

The addition of a consistent curveball has given him a more complete arsenal with his plus fastball and plus slider, but he has known all along that the development of a consistent changeup might be the deciding factor in his future role within the Yankee organization.

"Earlier this year when I started in Tampa with Ian [Kennedy] I was working with him on it," he said of his changeup. "He's kind of got that vulcan grip on it where you put it in between your middle finger and your ring finger and I spread it out a little bit more and when I throw it I'm getting that same action that he gets on it.

"I'm getting more of the bottom just dropping out of it with a little bit of tail and sink. When I throw it well the bottom's just dropping out of it really well."

He is excited with the movement he's getting with his changeup, and while he believes it could certainly develop into yet another strikeout pitch for him eventually, he hasn't gone to it too often for the punch-out with the Honolulu Sharks so far.

"I wasn't getting too many strikeouts on the changeup," he said of his 11-strikeout performance back on October 17th. "I was throwing it a lot but not many strikeouts with it. I was mainly getting strikeouts on my fastball, slider, and curveball.

"It was one of those games where all three pitches were pretty much going well. I was throwing first-pitch sliders, first-pitch curveballs, I was pitching backwards with the fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. It was just one of those games where everything felt good. My location was good, my pitches were good, and the results came out well."

Pitching to a 3.60 ERA through his first six starts in the Hawaiian Winter League and striking out nearly twelve batters per nine innings, Kontos says he feels like a more complete pitcher right now, thanks in large part to the enhanced changeup.

"I'm pretty happy with the way it's coming. I'm just focusing on mixing up my pitches and just keep getting outs. I'm not too worried about any one pitch now because they're all pretty much coming together.

"I'm really happy with the way everything's falling into place - just going out there mixing up my pitches, get outs, hopefully keep my pitch counts down and pitch deeper into games," he said of his remaining focus in the Aloha state.

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\r\n \r\n\r\n\"It's going pretty well actually,\" George Kontos said after striking out eight batters on Tuesday. \"I'm throwing the ball pretty well. My main focus coming down here was just keep working on the changeup and get comfortable throwing it because when I throw it well it's definitely a good pitch for me.
\r\n
\r\n\"I just wasn't all that confident in throwing it but down here I've been throwing it a lot and I've been getting a lot more confident with it, and I'm throwing it a lot more.\"
\r\n
\r\nNormally adhering to the ten percent rule during the minor league season, a guideline where at least ten percent of his pitches in any one game would be changeups, he has bumped up that percentage in Hawaii this offseason.
\r\n
\r\n\"I threw 80 pitches today [Tuesday] and I'm guessing maybe 15 or 16 of them were changeups,\" he revealed. \"It's definitely getting a lot of swings and misses. The more I throw the more swings and misses I'm getting with it. It's definitely encouraging and I definitely think I can use it as a strikeout pitch.\"
\r\n
\r\nAllowing him to focus more on developing his changeup was the enhancements made to his curveball prior to heading west. Once an inconsistent pitch for him, Kontos said his curveball has become much more reliable.
\r\n
\r\n\"The curveball is pretty much there,\" he admitted. \"Every game I've been there, I've been throwing it. It's been working real well. I've been throwing it for first-pitch strikes, in 1-1 counts, and I've also been using it to finish guys off. It's been here the whole time I've been here so it's going well with that pitch also.\"
\r\n
\r\nThe addition of a consistent curveball has given him a more complete arsenal with his plus fastball and plus slider, but he has known all along that the development of a consistent changeup might be the deciding factor in his future role within the Yankee organization.
\r\n
\r\n\"Earlier this year when I started in Tampa with Ian [Kennedy] I was working with him on it,\" he said of his changeup. \"He's kind of got that vulcan grip on it where you put it in between your middle finger and your ring finger and I spread it out a little bit more and when I throw it I'm getting that same action that he gets on it.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm getting more of the bottom just dropping out of it with a little bit of tail and sink. When I throw it well the bottom's just dropping out of it really well.\"
\r\n
\r\nHe is excited with the movement he's getting with his changeup, and while he believes it could certainly develop into yet another strikeout pitch for him eventually, he hasn't gone to it too often for the punch-out with the Honolulu Sharks so far.
\r\n
\r\n\"I wasn't getting too many strikeouts on the changeup,\" he said of his 11-strikeout performance back on October 17th. \"I was throwing it a lot but not many strikeouts with it. I was mainly getting strikeouts on my fastball, slider, and curveball.
\r\n
\r\n\"It was one of those games where all three pitches were pretty much going well. I was throwing first-pitch sliders, first-pitch curveballs, I was pitching backwards with the fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. It was just one of those games where everything felt good. My location was good, my pitches were good, and the results came out well.\"
\r\n
\r\nPitching to a 3.60 ERA through his first six starts in the Hawaiian Winter League and striking out nearly twelve batters per nine innings, Kontos says he feels like a more complete pitcher right now, thanks in large part to the enhanced changeup.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm pretty happy with the way it's coming. I'm just focusing on mixing up my pitches and just keep getting outs. I'm not too worried about any one pitch now because they're all pretty much coming together.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm really happy with the way everything's falling into place - just going out there mixing up my pitches, get outs, hopefully keep my pitch counts down and pitch deeper into games,\" he said of his remaining focus in the Aloha state.
\r\n
\r\n

\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n\r\n
\r\n

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\r\n

\r\n

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