Kontos Accomplished His Goals

Kontos says he became a more complete pitcher

George Kontos left the Hawaiian Winter League last offseason with a vastly improved changeup and curveball to complement his fastball-slider combination. He entered Spring Training this season with the goals of getting ahead of batters and using his four-pitch arsenal more, and he says he accomplished those goals.

"I thought my year went very well," George Kontos opined. "My numbers for the most part were very good. There's not much I can do about the record, 6-11, it happens. That's pretty much out of my control but I thought my numbers were pretty solid."

Striving for consistency this season after a somewhat inconsistent season a year ago, he posted a 3.68 ERA for Double-A Trenton this year and struck out 152 in a little more than 151 innings.

Aside from a couple of bad games in July that ballooned that month's ERA to 5.13, he didn't have another month this season where his ERA rose above the 3.52 mark and he says one of the biggest differences this year was his ability to get ahead in the count, which was one of the goals he established in Spring Training.

"The hardest adjustment was just getting ahead of hitters," he admitted. "They're a lot more disciplined at this level. Even from high-A or Hawaii, the hitters are a lot more disciplined. They're not going to let you sit there and keep throwing the ball where they're not going to swing at them, they're very patient.

"My biggest thing was just getting ahead of the hitters. Once I got ahead of the hitters and [went] to my secondary pitches, those games went very smoothly."

He especially excelled in this area after his near trade to the Pittsburgh Pirates, as evidenced by his 3-1 mark and 3.26 ERA after the trade deadline.

"With me, after that start against Altoona [his first game since nearly being traded to Pittsburgh], everything kind of broke down why I was successful that day," he said.

"I located my fastball early in the count and low in the zone, I was throwing my breaking ball for strikes, I incorporated my changeup and I started pinpointing my four pitches. I was successful because I was able to get ahead in the count consistently, that was the main thing."

Getting ahead in the count was just one of his preseason goals, however. The other was moving away from his fastball-slider tendencies - a reason why so many scouts had envisioned him as more of a potential big league reliever - and becoming more of a four-pitch hurler.

"I think a lot with me being able to locate my fastball better and incorporate the changeup, I think that's why I've been able to stay consistent throughout the season," said Kontos. "Whenever I did get into trouble or something was happening, it wasn't just a fastball or a slider coming.

"There were four pitches that the hitter had to think about coming and there was a good chance any one of them was coming.

"That's the main thing, throwing all four of my pitches and even when I do get into trouble kind of swaying away from fastball-slider thing - throwing all of them, that's the most important thing."

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