Friday, April 25, 2008

Trenton Report: George Kontos

I made the trip to Trenton last night and was able to see George Kontos pitch for the first time. Kontos had started the year poorly, walking more men than he struck out, but Thursday night was the best start of his AA campaign.

The line: 6.1 innings, four hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 SO.

I had heard his stuff was electric, and though his velocity was a tick or two lower than I had expected, his stuff is certainly overpowering. Kontos showed that last night against a tough New Britain offense. I spent the first four innings in the pressbox, but finally made my way down behind homeplate before the fifth frame. ESPN baseball analyst Keith Law sat a few rows in front of me.
Scouting Report:
Fastball: Topping out at 93 mph but mostly 90-92. Good boring action in on righties and strong late life when thrown belt high or below. At times he commanded it very well on the corners. His velocity may have been better in the earlier innings, very possibly hitting 94 or 95, but it is his tendency to overthrow which has hurt Kontos most.

Slider: Ranged from 83-87 mph with strong movement both downward and laterally. Not Joba's two-plane slidepiece, but it is an electric pitch which at times has a slurve's movement at hard slider velocity. Was especially effective away from right handed hitters.

Changeup: 81-83 mph with average fade. Kontos threw the changeup 10+ times - mostly to lefties - and commanded it decently throughout the start. If Kontos is to move forward as a starter it will be the development of this pitch that gets him there. Konto's admitted as much after the game.

Curveball: Thrown at 72-74 mph. Only threw about 3 or 4 curves, but the pitch has some projection. Probably major league average right now, but may develop into a plus pitch if Kontos is able to use it enough from start to start. Control was average but his command could use some work as one hung in the zone. Consistently good tight spin and downward break.
Thursday's start was Kontos' first major step toward becoming comfortable at the AA level. If last night's performance is any indication, Kontos gives the Yankees another effective power arm on the cusp of the majors.

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