Well, the Rule 5 Draft has come and gone, and that means it’s about that time for me to get back into baseball mode. So be on the lookout for some more content as the off-season quickly turns into spring training…
George Kontos was selected by the San Diego Padres in the Rule 5 Draft, and Lance Pendleton was taken by the Houston Astros. Additionally, the Yankees took Angels farmhand P Robert Fish and Red Sox P Daniel Turpen.
Of the two Yankee pitchers selected by other teams, Kontos is considered to be the bigger prospect. Kontos had Tommy John surgery midway through the 2009 season just a few starts into his first Triple-A call-up.
He came back early last year and was in great shape — a continuation of having lost some weight between the 2008 and 2009 seasons — but was inconsistent at times despite good numbers in Trenton (0-2, 3.38, 17 GP, 32 IP, 11 BB/28 K).The Arizona Fall League was a continuation of Kontos’ inconsistency — which is certainly to be expected after coming off of a major arm surgery — as he went 1-2 with a 12.08 ERA in ten relief appearances. He allowed runs in five of those appearances, including an eight runs in two thirds of an inning meltdown on November 8 while with the Phoenix Desert Dogs.
Off the field, Kontos is a great guy. Read this as evidence of that. Padres fans Googling him and finding the incident in Tampa should know that he isn’t that guy. I thoroughly enjoyed covering George (we’d often just talk with the recorder off about anything and everything outside of baseball) and think his arm and his attitude — he’s a confident guy — will take him far one day. I’m just not sure if he’s in a great position to stick with the Padres right now. Come Opening Day…I’m thinking you see him in Scranton.
At one point, Pendleton seemed to be a surefire big leaguer. He was an early round draft pick by the Yankees out of Rice (4th round/2005) and his career got off a strong start in Staten Island later that year. However, he then did what most Rice pitchers did and his arm gave out on him…he came back in 2007 after Tommy John surgery, but at 24 years old, he was already getting a little too older to be considered a prospect.
Now 27, Pendleton has had two really outstanding seasons — with Tampa in 2009 and Trenton in 2010 — and has put any injury concerns behind him. With 263 strikeouts in 302 2/3 IP over the past two years, he can still finesse the ball past the opposition — he isn’t a power pitcher by any means — and is a very, very polished pitcher for a guy who has just six games of Triple-A experience.
A Kingwood, Texas native, getting selected by the Astros is a great, great scenario for Pendleton. One of the nicest “gee whiz, aw shucks” kinda guys you’ll ever meet — I’ve never heard the man curse once — you can’t help but root for him to get an opportunity at the big league level with Houston…which is something that was very unlikely to happen in the Bronx.
Robert Fish is an Angels lefty who was last with the Mesa Solar Sox of the Arizona Fall League after splitting last year between Single-A and Double-A. The 6-foot-3, 225 pounder was 0-2 with a 10.45 ERA in 11 games in the AFL, and similarly struggled during the regular season, going 5-5 with a 6.79 ERA in 49 relief appearances in the Angels system.
Daniel Turpen was with the Peoria Javelinas of the AFL this off-season and was 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA and one save in ten appearances. A 6-foot-4, 230 pound righty, the 24-year-old Oregon native posted a 7-6 mark with a 4.30 ERA in 49 relief outings between Single-A and Double-A in the Red Sox system last year. While with Portland, he faced Trenton twice — both in Maine — and allowed one run on three hits over three innings of work, striking out five and walking one.
Also, it’s worth noting that C P.J. Pilittere has signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Nice to see a good guy finally get out of baseball jail and hopefully get a real opportunity elsewhere. C Jose Gil has re-signed with the Yankees, and will likely start next year in Double-A Trenton.
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com