Kontos Learning to Pitch Smarter

George Kontos began his professional career as an aggressive power pitcher relying mostly on two pitches. Since that time he has harnessed his entire repertoire and now has quietly emerged as one of the better pitchers on the Triple-A staff. Able to provide depth as a starter or a reliever, it's all because he has been able to learn how to pitch smarter.

George Kontos opened the year in Double-A Trenton, and decimated opposing batters from the get-go. In his first 20 innings, the fifth-round pick struck out 24 and walked nine. He only allowed seven earned runs. Kontos attributes the strong start to a winter full of leg conditioning and swimming.

"I tried to continue building my lower body while maintaining flexibility and loosening up my upper body. I really didn't focus much on lifting or arm work, I just really worked on building up my legs," Kontos said.

"The swimming helps the way my arm works when pitching, and really improves the overall flexibility. It makes my motion a lot more fluid."

Based on his numbers with Trenton, it was easy to see why the Yankees chose Kontos to fill the void left by an injured Ian Kennedy. Like many other pitchers, however, he initially struggled with his first Triple-A start.

Kontos allowed three runs in four and one-third innings against Indianapolis. Realizing that he had to adjust his approach in order to retire the more disciplined Triple-A hitters, Kontos quickly learned how to pitch smarter.

Earlier in his career, Kontos was one of the more aggressive pitchers in the farm system. He's now incorporating a different style into his approach.

"I've really had to set things up more," Kontos said. "In my first outing for against Indianapolis, I threw some bad pitches and the hitters kind of spit on them. That's because I did not set it up properly.

"In my next start, I threw my fastball on both sides of the plate and set up my slider better. I've been getting better results ever since.

"I'm facing a lot more disciplined hitters here, they are all trying to get ready for the big leagues too, so I definitely have to pitch to my strengths and focus on making the best possible pitch."

Kontos' adjustments quickly paid off. In his next start, the right-hander allowed seven hits and three runs in six and one-third innings while striking out seven. The improvements were noticeable, but it was not until his May 15th start that the changes really started taking affect.

Against the Charlotte Knights, Kontos gave up only two hits in five and one-third innings, striking out six. From there, things took off. In his next 27 innings, Kontos posted a 2.00 ERA and 17 strikeouts.

It looks as though the right-hander has turned the final corner and is nearly ready for a promotion. With the current state of the Yankee bullpen, Kontos could easily strengthen the faulty pen once he feels more comfortable with his fastball.

"I've been commanding my fastball pretty good, and I've been building it up since I got to Scranton, and it's almost there. By the time I reach midseason, the velocity and command should be even better.

"The slider is breaking how it should. My slider is always there for me, it always feels good. It's the kind of pitch that I just have all the time," Kontos said.

A plus curveball and average change compliment his hard-breaking slider and strong two and four-seam fastballs. If the Yankees chose to use him in a bullpen role, Kontos could scrap his change and focus on his fastball, while mixing in his two plus breaking pitches.

Of course, his deep repertoire makes him better suited as a starter, but with the rotation full and a need for reliable bullpen arms, Kontos could bring relief to the pitching staff. The organization has yet to discuss any future plans with the right-hander, but he would be open to any role.

"Hopefully I'll keep pitching well and they'll find a spot for me at the next level. I have no inning cap this year or anything. The only goal for me is to keep pitching well and putting up zeroes as often as I can," Kontos said.

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\r\n \r\n\r\nGeorge Kontos opened the year in Double-A Trenton, and decimated opposing batters from the get-go. In his first 20 innings, the fifth-round pick struck out 24 and walked nine. He only allowed seven earned runs. Kontos attributes the strong start to a winter full of leg conditioning and swimming.
\r\n
\r\n\"I tried to continue building my lower body while maintaining flexibility and loosening up my upper body. I really didn't focus much on lifting or arm work, I just really worked on building up my legs,\" Kontos said.
\r\n
\r\n\"The swimming helps the way my arm works when pitching, and really improves the overall flexibility. It makes my motion a lot more fluid.\"
\r\n
\r\nBased on his numbers with Trenton, it was easy to see why the Yankees chose Kontos to fill the void left by an injured Ian Kennedy. Like many other pitchers, however, he initially struggled with his first Triple-A start.
\r\n
\r\nKontos allowed three runs in four and one-third innings against Indianapolis. Realizing that he had to adjust his approach in order to retire the more disciplined Triple-A hitters, Kontos quickly learned how to pitch smarter.
\r\n
\r\nEarlier in his career, Kontos was one of the more aggressive pitchers in the farm system. He's now incorporating a different style into his approach.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've really had to set things up more,\" Kontos said. \"In my first outing for against Indianapolis, I threw some bad pitches and the hitters kind of spit on them. That's because I did not set it up properly.
\r\n
\r\n\"In my next start, I threw my fastball on both sides of the plate and set up my slider better. I've been getting better results ever since.
\r\n
\r\n\"I'm facing a lot more disciplined hitters here, they are all trying to get ready for the big leagues too, so I definitely have to pitch to my strengths and focus on making the best possible pitch.\"
\r\n
\r\nKontos' adjustments quickly paid off. In his next start, the right-hander allowed seven hits and three runs in six and one-third innings while striking out seven. The improvements were noticeable, but it was not until his May 15th start that the changes really started taking affect.
\r\n
\r\nAgainst the Charlotte Knights, Kontos gave up only two hits in five and one-third innings, striking out six. From there, things took off. In his next 27 innings, Kontos posted a 2.00 ERA and 17 strikeouts.
\r\n
\r\nIt looks as though the right-hander has turned the final corner and is nearly ready for a promotion. With the current state of the Yankee bullpen, Kontos could easily strengthen the faulty pen once he feels more comfortable with his fastball.
\r\n
\r\n\"I've been commanding my fastball pretty good, and I've been building it up since I got to Scranton, and it's almost there. By the time I reach midseason, the velocity and command should be even better.
\r\n
\r\n\"The slider is breaking how it should. My slider is always there for me, it always feels good. It's the kind of pitch that I just have all the time,\" Kontos said.
\r\n
\r\nA plus curveball and average change compliment his hard-breaking slider and strong two and four-seam fastballs. If the Yankees chose to use him in a bullpen role, Kontos could scrap his change and focus on his fastball, while mixing in his two plus breaking pitches.
\r\n
\r\nOf course, his deep repertoire makes him better suited as a starter, but with the rotation full and a need for reliable bullpen arms, Kontos could bring relief to the pitching staff. The organization has yet to discuss any future plans with the right-hander, but he would be open to any role.
\r\n
\r\n\"Hopefully I'll keep pitching well and they'll find a spot for me at the next level. I have no inning cap this year or anything. The only goal for me is to keep pitching well and putting up zeroes as often as I can,\" Kontos said.
\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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