George Kontos

Born: June 12, 1985
Height: 6′ 3″
Weight: 215
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Drafted: 5th Round, 164th Overall, 2006
How Acquired: Waivers (from Giants)
College: Northwestern University
Agent: ACES


Kontos was a solid reliever for the Giants before coming to Pittsburgh.  He throws a low-90s fastball, but primarily relies on a cutter that averages about 87 mph.  He also throws a slider and, rarely, a change.  He’s had trouble at times with gopher balls and has seen his K rate rise and fall sharply in recent years.  He’s a mild groundball pitcher and has had a moderate platoon split; for his career, he’s held left-handed hitters to a 235/329/385 line and right-handed hitters to 226/267/363.  In a twist of fate, the Pirates nearly acquired Kontos from the Yankees for Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte in 2008.  The Pirates had a choice between Jeff Karstens and Daniel McCutchen, or Phil Coke and Kontos.  They ended up with the former pair.  Coke, however, pitched for them briefly in 2016 and they acquired Kontos shortly after the trade deadline in 2017.

A-:  7-3-0, 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 78.1 IP, 2.2 BB/9, 9.4 K/9

Kontos pitched well in his debut, with very good walk and K rates.

A+:  4-6-0, 4.02 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 94.0 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 9.7 K/9

The Yankees jumped Kontos up to high A and he had less success.  His walk and K rates remained very good, but he had trouble with gopher balls, allowing 15.  Kontos also missed the first two months of the season, partly due to injury and partly to an arrest for trespassing when he failed to leave a bar when it was closing.

AA:  6-11-0, 3.68 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 151.2 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 9.0 K/9

Kontos had a much better season, allowing just one more HR in 57 more innings.  Baseball America rated him the Yankees’ 23rd best prospect after the season.

AA:  1-1-0, 2.66 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 4.0 BB/9, 10.6 K/9
AAA:  3-4-0, 3.35 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 51.0 IP, 3.7 BB/9, 6.9 K/9

The Yankees sent Kontos back to AA briefly, then moved him up to AAA.  In July, though, he had Tommy John surgery, which kept him out until mid-June in 2010.

A+:  0-1-0, 2.61 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 7.0 K/9
AA:  0-2-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 32.0 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 7.9 K/9
AAA:  0-1-0, 10.13 ERA, 2.25 WHIP, 2.2 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 6.8 K/9

Kontos rehabbed through three levels after returning.  During the off-season, San Diego claimed him in the Rule 5 draft, but returned him to the Yankees in the middle of spring training.

AAA:  4-4-2, 2.62 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 89.1 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 9.2 K/9
MLB:  0-0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 6.0 IP, 4.5 BB/9, 9.0 K/9

Kontos pitched mostly out of the bullpen in AAA and had a good year despite some gopher ball problems, as he gave up a dozen.  The Yankees called him up and he made his major league debut in September.  After the season, they traded him to the Giants for future Pirate Chris Stewart.

AAA:  2-0-1, 1.71 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 2.0 BB/9, 7.4 K/9
MLB:  2-1-0, 2.47 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 43.2 IP, 2.5 BB/9, 9.1 K/9

Kontos appeared in relief in 23 games in AAA and 44 with the Giants.  He pitched very well at both levels, striking out a batter an inning in the majors.

AAA:  3-2-4, 4.18 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 23.2 IP, 1.1 BB/9, 9.9 K/9
MLB:  2-2-0, 4.39 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 55.1 IP, 2.9 BB/9, 7.6 K/9

The Giants kept Kontos in the majors most of the season, but sent him to AAA for a couple of stretches.  In the majors, he was less effective than the previous year, with lower groundball and strikeout rates.

AAA:  3-3-4, 2.08 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 47.2 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 11.0 K/9
MLB:  4-0-0, 2.78 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 3.1 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

The Giants sent Kontos to AAA to start the season and he shuttle back and forth between there and the majors a number of times.  He was very effective at both stops, although he was especially helped in the majors by an unusually low HR rate, allowing only one.  His xFIP in the majors (3.90) was a good deal higher than his ERA or FIP (2.88).

MLB:  4-4-0, 2.33 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 73.1 IP, 1.5 BB/9, 5.4 K/9

For the first time, Kontos spent all year in the majors.  He got excellent results despite a sharp drop in his K rate.  He was helped by a low BABIP of .219 and a high strand rate of 86.9%; as you’d expect, his xFIP of 4.01 was much higher than his ERA.

AAA:  0-0-0, 2.45 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 3.2 IP, 0.0 BB/9, 4.9 K/9
MLB:  3-2-0, 2.53 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 53.1 IP, 3.4 BB/9, 5.9 K/9

Kontos was out briefly with an elbow strain, but other than the rehab spent the season in the majors.  He again had a low K rate and probably didn’t pitch as well as his ERA showed; his xFIP was 4.66.  His BABIP remained on the low side at .250.

MLB (SF):  0-5-0, 3.83 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 51.2 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 9.6 K/9
MLB:  1-1-1, 1.84 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 1.8 BB/9, 9.2 K/9

While with the Giants, Kontos reversed a lot of his trends from the previous year.  His K rate increased sharply, but so did his ERA.  His xFIP of 3.55, though, suggested that he was a little better than the ERA.  He had some trouble with gopher balls, allowing eight.  After the trade deadline, the Giants put Kontos on waivers and, surprisingly, did not pull him back when the Pirates claimed him.  The Pirates had spent the first four months of 2017 ignoring obvious problems with their bullpen.  Their sole move at the trade deadline was to downgrade from Tony Watson to 40-year-old Joaquin Benoit.  After Benoit pitched poorly in his first two games, the Pirates claimed Kontos.  He pitched well for them, but got into only 15 games as he missed some time with a groin injury.  He didn’t pitch as well as his ERA suggests.  He had a very low BABIP of .222; his xFIP was 3.67.

Kontos has two years of control remaining beyond 2017.  He’s not the kind of dominating pitcher the Pirates should be looking for to fill their need for setup relievers, but he should be useful as long as they don’t push him into an unsuitable role.

2018: $2,725,000
Signing Bonus: $158,000
MiLB Debut: 2006
MLB Debut: 9/10/2011
MiLB FA Eligible: N/A
MLB FA Eligible: 2020
Rule 5 Eligible: Protected
Added to 40-Man: 12/19/2010
Options Remaining: 0 (USED: 2012, 2013, 2014)
MLB Service Time: 4.171
June 6, 2006: Drafted by the New York Yankees in the 5th round, 164th overall pick; signed on June 16.
December 9, 2010:
Selected by the San Diego Padres from the New York Yankees in the Rule 5 draft.
March 14, 2011:
Returned by the San Diego Padres to the New York Yankees.
September 6, 2011:
Contract purchased by the New York Yankees.
April 4, 2012: Traded by the New York Yankees to the San Francisco Giants for Chris Stewart.
August 5, 2017: Claimed off waivers from the San Francisco Giants by the Pittsburgh Pirates.