Drafted: 5th Round in 2006 out of Northwestern University
Position: Starting Pitcher
Stuff: George Kontos has a nasty fastball. It tops out in the mid 90s, but he primarily throws it as a 2-seamer. Watching him on TV, I saw exactly why Kontos was picked in the 5th round despite a terrible college record. His stuff is just electric. He also throws a straigher 4-seamer, a decent change (it used to be about 84-85 mph, compared to a 94 mph fastball, but the Yankee coaches refined it and it's now in the 78-80 range). His best pitch is however his slider, and he gets a lot of swing and misses with it. It is probably the best or second best slider in the Yankee farm system. He has a curveball but doesn't use it too much.
Command: Kontos had a bad record of walking people in college. He walked 123 in 219.2 innings in three college years, including 53 in 95.1 this season. However, this was one case where the scouts were able to tell what statheads like myself could not. Scouts said that he did not have control problems; he simply was forced to nibble against aluminum bats. His mechanics were sound. As soon as he met wooden bats, Kontos excelled. The inside third of the plate opened to him and the strikes came like crazy. He pounded his slider to righties and located his fastball like a seasoned pro. In his 78 innings, Kontos only walked 19.
Outlook: I am a huge Kontos fan. He is probably my favorite prospect on this list. He has a first round slider and a great fastball to go along. His future is certainly going to be determined by the development of his changeup. Without a reliable third pitch, his future is in the bullpen. The Yankees seem confident however that Kontos will stay in the rotation (they are less confident in Tim Norton, who is primarily a fastball pitcher). If his changeup becomes an average or better pitch, look for a major steal from the 5th round pick. He has handled significant workloads between college and Staten Island (over 160 innings this season) and has a clean bill of health. I would not be surprised to see him pitch in Trenton at some time during 2007. I am a fan.
Grades: Ceiling B+, Health A-, Comparison: I really don't know who to compare Kontos to.
Friday, December 29, 2006