Scouting Yankees Prospect #25: George Kontos

The Yankees selected George Kontos in the 5th round of the 2006 MLB Draft out of Northwestern University. Skipping a minor league level to Tampa this past season after dominating in Staten Island a year ago, he has come a long way already in his mechanics and stuff since posting high ERA's in the Big Ten back in college.

Vital Statistics:
Name: George Kontos
Position: Starting Pitcher
DOB: June 12, 1985
Height: 6'3"
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right

He went just 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 94 innings for the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League this past season, solid numbers however considering all of the changes made to his mechanics and repertoire, especially after bypassing the South Atlantic League entirely.

"I thought it was a pretty good year," Kontos confidently told us. "It had its ups and downs. I had a lot of learning experiences throughout the course of the year. Overall I learned a lot and I kept getting better as the year went on.

"Mentally I made the biggest strides and that was the biggest thing for me. Overall I was happy. The ERA was pretty much the only number I wasn't happy with but the rest of my numbers weren't too bad I think."

Having inconsistent games from start to start - serving up four or more earned runs six times in nineteen of his games and one earned run or less in nine of his starts - he maintains learning to deal with the highs and lows of a long season was one of the biggest adjustments he made in 2007.

"I learned how to keep confidence when things weren't going well, not to lose it and just stay focused and keep going," he revealed. "Everyone has their [bad] days and it's just learning how to minimize it and having just one bad day instead of stringing it into three or four bad starts, which could ruin your whole season. That was the biggest thing for me, the maturing process and I think I took to that pretty well."

Hidden behind his inconsistent and seemingly pedestrian-like numbers was a concentrated effort on cleaning up his mechanics and improving his changeup.

"Towards the end of the season and in Hawaii were the biggest strides for me and my changeup," said the Illinois native. "I feel completely comfortable using it at anytime now. Hawaii was very good for that.

"I was throwing it a lot more than I had been throwing it all year. If I threw 80 pitches I probably threw 13 or 14 changeups, which was great. I got a way better feel for the pitch and I just have confidence throwing it now"

Sent to the Hawaiian Winter League this offseason to further the development of his changeup and continuing working on his delivery, he went 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA for the Honolulu Sharks and he believes his entire season was a huge step in the right direction, especially mechanically.

"Pav [Tampa pitching coach Greg Pavlik] helped me tremendously this year," said Kontos. "I went into this past season and my mechanics still weren't set. When I came over my head from the wind-up and down to when I separate my arms, I paused, which caused for a little bit of inconsistency.

"With Pav, between the towel drill and in our sides, I definitely smoothed out my mechanics and gotten them to the point where I can take them. These mechanics I have right now, I can take them with me to the big leagues. They're consistent, they're fluid now, and I feel really comfortable and confident with them."

Aiding his confidence on the mound has been the rapid development of a more extended repertoire. Armed mostly with just a plus fastball and a devastating slider a year ago, he developed his curveball into another great weapon and he got his changeup into more than a serviceable pitch as well this past season, giving him a truly complete arsenal.

"After Hawaii, I'd say pretty complete," he said of his game as a starting pitcher. "I could obviously work more on throwing more strikes with my secondary pitches because when I do get into trouble I do go to my main pitches which are my fastball and slider.

"I think most pitchers do that, go with their best stuff when they are in trouble. I think I still have more learning to do but I think I'm definitely on the right track right now."

Realizing his power fastball-slider combination is much further ahead of his other secondary pitches to the point where a lot of scouts envision him pitching in the back-end of a big league bullpen someday, he believes he could be a very good starting pitcher and he considers himself one of the top pitching prospects in the organization.

"I've got enough confidence now in my curveball and changeup that I could use them and stay in the starting role, but I think if I was thrown into the bullpen I could thrive there as well. We do have a lot of great pitchers inside the organization but to be successful in this game, and for everyone who dreams about playing the game of baseball, you have to consider yourself among the best or else you're just lying to yourself.

"If you want to succeed in this game, and if you want to pitch in the big leagues and stay in the big leagues - the goal is not to get to the big leagues but to get there and stay there - if you don't consider yourself one of the best and compete against the best then there's no point in you being out there."

With a game similar to Alan Horne, who had his breakout season in Double-A after a somewhat average year in high-A the season prior, Kontos believes he is primed to have a Horne-like season in Trenton this coming year and be mentioned among the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.

"I definitely do," he said emphatically. "I know that was one of Alan's big things, getting the feel for the changeup and I think him and I have a similar repertoire of pitches. I definitely think I could put up some numbers like that with the confidence I have, put up a few good games, and things could start to roll."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

H

BB

SO

ERA

2007

Tampa

4-6

94.0

95

30

101

4.02

2006

Staten Island

7-3

78.1

64

19

82

2.64



Repertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup, Curveball.

Fastball. Kontos throws a heavy four-seam fastball and a sinking two-seam fastball with good movement which runs in on righties and away from lefties. Sitting mostly in 91-95 MPH range with his four-seamer, he has very good command of it and he's not afraid to pitch up and in to back hitters off in the batter's box.

Other Pitches. His best secondary pitch is easily his devastating slider that he throws in the 83-86 MPH range with a sharp break. He has excellent command of his slider and he has the confidence to throw it in any count and in any situation. Not having great confidence in his curveball a year ago, he has gotten his second breaking pitch to the point where he's very comfortable throwing it for a first-pitch called strike or going to it for the strikeout. It is an an above average big league curveball and it has some room to get even better, especially from a consistency standpoint command-wise. He also made marked improvements with his changeup this past season and it is has become quite effective against left-handed batters. He can get a few swings-and-misses with it but it's not to the point where it's a real strikeout pitch yet.

Pitching. Kontos is a bulldog on the mound who not only goes right after batters but intimidates them with his size, power stuff, and willingness to pitch inside quite often. Aside from developing a solid four-pitch arsenal that helps keep hitters guessing, he also keeps them uncomfortable with a quick tempo approach on the mound. A gym rat of sorts, he keeps himself in great shape by working with a nutritionist, lifting weights and swimming, all to help his strength and endurance. Trying to muscle up and rely on his power on occasion, he does tend to get a little fastball-slider heavy in his pitch selection, often times forgetting about his curveball and changeup even when situations call for those pitches and that will remain a focus of his development in the coming years.

Projection. Like Horne, Kontos offers the organization some flexibility in his future role. His fastball-slider combination are special enough to safely project as a future setup man at the big league level, not unlike the role Joba Chamberlain filled for the Yankees late in 2007. But with an ever-developing curveball-changeup duo and increasing confidence in both pitches, he also has the opportunity to break into the Yankees rotation someday with the potential to fit somewhere in between a #2 and a #3 starter, he has the kind of ceiling. Most scouts believe he is better served in the back-end of the bullpen however and his propensity to throw too many sliders in tough situations doesn't do much to dispute that projection.

ETA. 2009. We predicted a year ago Kontos would have a Horne-like minor league track and go to Tampa this past season, and now he's primed to possibly match his production in Trenton in 2008. With so many youngsters in the big league rotation already though, even if he eventually becomes a starter at the major league level, he'll most likely have to break in as a reliever and that could happen as soon as the following year.

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Pinstripes Plus Top Stories

\r\n \r\n\r\nVital Statistics:
\r\nName: George Kontos
\r\nPosition: Starting Pitcher
\r\nDOB: June 12, 1985
\r\nHeight: 6'3\"
\r\nWeight: 215
\r\nBats: Right
\r\nThrows: Right
\r\n
\r\nHe went just 4-6 with a 4.02 ERA and 101 strikeouts in 94 innings for the Tampa Yankees in the Florida State League this past season, solid numbers however considering all of the changes made to his mechanics and repertoire, especially after bypassing the South Atlantic League entirely.
\r\n
\r\n\"I thought it was a pretty good year,\" Kontos confidently told us. \"It had its ups and downs. I had a lot of learning experiences throughout the course of the year. Overall I learned a lot and I kept getting better as the year went on.
\r\n
\r\n\"Mentally I made the biggest strides and that was the biggest thing for me. Overall I was happy. The ERA was pretty much the only number I wasn't happy with but the rest of my numbers weren't too bad I think.\"
\r\n
\r\nHaving inconsistent games from start to start - serving up four or more earned runs six times in nineteen of his games and one earned run or less in nine of his starts - he maintains learning to deal with the highs and lows of a long season was one of the biggest adjustments he made in 2007.
\r\n
\r\n\"I learned how to keep confidence when things weren't going well, not to lose it and just stay focused and keep going,\" he revealed. \"Everyone has their [bad] days and it's just learning how to minimize it and having just one bad day instead of stringing it into three or four bad starts, which could ruin your whole season. That was the biggest thing for me, the maturing process and I think I took to that pretty well.\"
\r\n
\r\nHidden behind his inconsistent and seemingly pedestrian-like numbers was a concentrated effort on cleaning up his mechanics and improving his changeup.
\r\n
\r\n\"Towards the end of the season and in Hawaii were the biggest strides for me and my changeup,\" said the Illinois native. \"I feel completely comfortable using it at anytime now. Hawaii was very good for that.
\r\n
\r\n\"I was throwing it a lot more than I had been throwing it all year. If I threw 80 pitches I probably threw 13 or 14 changeups, which was great. I got a way better feel for the pitch and I just have confidence throwing it now\"
\r\n
\r\nSent to the Hawaiian Winter League this offseason to further the development of his changeup and continuing working on his delivery, he went 3-4 with a 3.71 ERA for the Honolulu Sharks and he believes his entire season was a huge step in the right direction, especially mechanically.
\r\n
\r\n\"Pav [Tampa pitching coach Greg Pavlik] helped me tremendously this year,\" said Kontos. \"I went into this past season and my mechanics still weren't set. When I came over my head from the wind-up and down to when I separate my arms, I paused, which caused for a little bit of inconsistency.
\r\n
\r\n\"With Pav, between the towel drill and in our sides, I definitely smoothed out my mechanics and gotten them to the point where I can take them. These mechanics I have right now, I can take them with me to the big leagues. They're consistent, they're fluid now, and I feel really comfortable and confident with them.\"
\r\n
\r\nAiding his confidence on the mound has been the rapid development of a more extended repertoire. Armed mostly with just a plus fastball and a devastating slider a year ago, he developed his curveball into another great weapon and he got his changeup into more than a serviceable pitch as well this past season, giving him a truly complete arsenal.
\r\n
\r\n\"After Hawaii, I'd say pretty complete,\" he said of his game as a starting pitcher. \"I could obviously work more on throwing more strikes with my secondary pitches because when I do get into trouble I do go to my main pitches which are my fastball and slider.
\r\n
\r\n\"I think most pitchers do that, go with their best stuff when they are in trouble. I think I still have more learning to do but I think I'm definitely on the right track right now.\"
\r\n
\r\nRealizing his power fastball-slider combination is much further ahead of his other secondary pitches to the point where a lot of scouts envision him pitching in the back-end of a big league bullpen someday, he believes he could be a very good starting pitcher and he considers himself one of the top pitching prospects in the organization.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've got enough confidence now in my curveball and changeup that I could use them and stay in the starting role, but I think if I was thrown into the bullpen I could thrive there as well. We do have a lot of great pitchers inside the organization but to be successful in this game, and for everyone who dreams about playing the game of baseball, you have to consider yourself among the best or else you're just lying to yourself.
\r\n
\r\n\"If you want to succeed in this game, and if you want to pitch in the big leagues and stay in the big leagues - the goal is not to get to the big leagues but to get there and stay there - if you don't consider yourself one of the best and compete against the best then there's no point in you being out there.\"
\r\n
\r\nWith a game similar to Alan Horne, who had his breakout season in Double-A after a somewhat average year in high-A the season prior, Kontos believes he is primed to have a Horne-like season in Trenton this coming year and be mentioned among the top pitching prospects in all of baseball.
\r\n
\r\n\"I definitely do,\" he said emphatically. \"I know that was one of Alan's big things, getting the feel for the changeup and I think him and I have a similar repertoire of pitches. I definitely think I could put up some numbers like that with the confidence I have, put up a few good games, and things could start to roll.\"
\r\n
\r\n\r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n \r\n
\r\n

\r\n Year

\r\n

\r\n Team

\r\n

\r\n W-L

\r\n

\r\n IP

\r\n

\r\n H

\r\n

\r\n BB

\r\n

\r\n SO

\r\n

\r\n ERA

\r\n

\r\n 2007

\r\n

\r\n Tampa

\r\n

\r\n 4-6

\r\n

\r\n 94.0

\r\n

\r\n 95

\r\n

\r\n 30

\r\n

\r\n 101

\r\n

\r\n 4.02

\r\n

\r\n 2006

\r\n

\r\n Staten Island

\r\n

\r\n 7-3

\r\n

\r\n 78.1

\r\n

\r\n 64

\r\n

\r\n 19

\r\n

\r\n 82

\r\n

\r\n 2.64


\r\n
\r\nRepertoire. Fastball, Slider, Changeup, Curveball.
\r\n
\r\nFastball. Kontos throws a heavy four-seam fastball and a sinking two-seam fastball with good movement which runs in on righties and away from lefties. Sitting mostly in 91-95 MPH range with his four-seamer, he has very good command of it and he's not afraid to pitch up and in to back hitters off in the batter's box.
\r\n
\r\nOther Pitches. His best secondary pitch is easily his devastating slider that he throws in the 83-86 MPH range with a sharp break. He has excellent command of his slider and he has the confidence to throw it in any count and in any situation. Not having great confidence in his curveball a year ago, he has gotten his second breaking pitch to the point where he's very comfortable throwing it for a first-pitch called strike or going to it for the strikeout. It is an an above average big league curveball and it has some room to get even better, especially from a consistency standpoint command-wise. He also made marked improvements with his changeup this past season and it is has become quite effective against left-handed batters. He can get a few swings-and-misses with it but it's not to the point where it's a real strikeout pitch yet.
\r\n
\r\nPitching. Kontos is a bulldog on the mound who not only goes right after batters but intimidates them with his size, power stuff, and willingness to pitch inside quite often. Aside from developing a solid four-pitch arsenal that helps keep hitters guessing, he also keeps them uncomfortable with a quick tempo approach on the mound. A gym rat of sorts, he keeps himself in great shape by working with a nutritionist, lifting weights and swimming, all to help his strength and endurance. Trying to muscle up and rely on his power on occasion, he does tend to get a little fastball-slider heavy in his pitch selection, often times forgetting about his curveball and changeup even when situations call for those pitches and that will remain a focus of his development in the coming years.
\r\n
\r\nProjection. Like Horne, Kontos offers the organization some flexibility in his future role. His fastball-slider combination are special enough to safely project as a future setup man at the big league level, not unlike the role Joba Chamberlain filled for the Yankees late in 2007. But with an ever-developing curveball-changeup duo and increasing confidence in both pitches, he also has the opportunity to break into the Yankees rotation someday with the potential to fit somewhere in between a #2 and a #3 starter, he has the kind of ceiling. Most scouts believe he is better served in the back-end of the bullpen however and his propensity to throw too many sliders in tough situations doesn't do much to dispute that projection.
\r\n
\r\nETA. 2009. We predicted a year ago Kontos would have a Horne-like minor league track and go to Tampa this past season, and now he's primed to possibly match his production in Trenton in 2008. With so many youngsters in the big league rotation already though, even if he eventually becomes a starter at the major league level, he'll most likely have to break in as a reliever and that could happen as soon as the following year.
\r\n
\r\n

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

\r\n

Get both magazines by upgrading today!
\r\n

Are you a monthly or 3-month subscriber to PinstripesPlus.com? Why not get two months free AND get 4 issues of our PinstripesPlus Magazine, including our special Yankees Prospects Guide, PLUS the special 84-page Scout.com Prospects Guide covering all 30 farm systems, included by becoming an annual subscriber? Upgrade today to get the most out of your subscription.

\r\n

\r\n

Become an annual subscriber today!

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