Kontos Taken By Padres
Reliever could help restock bullpen
SAN DIEGO—The strength of the Padres the past several years has been the bullpen.
Trades this winter involving Adam Russell, Ryan Webb, Edward Mujica and Cesar Ramos, however, have stripped some of the power arms from the back end of the bullpen. So it was no surprise the Padres went for an arm in the major league Rule 5 draft, taking righthander George Kontos from the Yankees organization.
"He has been on our radar for a couple of years," farm director Randy Smith said of Kontos. "But he had Tommy John surgery in '09, so we passed the first time."
Kontos, a fifth-round draft pick in 2006 out of Northwestern, appeared in 24 games at three levels in 2010, throwing 32 innings at Double-A Trenton, posting a 3.38 ERA with 11 walks and 28 strikeouts. He finished with two games at Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.
"He pitched a good number of innings overall (45), and he dominated righthanded hitters," Smith said. "He was a hard thrower before the surgery—93-94—and he's at 90-91 now. But he has a solid slider, and we think his velocity will come back."
Kontos was a workhorse in the low minors, and the Padres liked that.
"We think he has a chance to fit in the back end of our bullpen," Smith said. "We wouldn't have taken a chance had he not pitched in Triple-A, so he's fairly far along after the surgery. He's an inexpensive option, but we think he has a chance to help us."
The Padres also took infielder Jacob Blackwood in the minor league phase of the draft from the Giants. Blackwood hit .331/.380/.636 for the independent Kansas City T-Bones last season.
• The Padres lost outfielder Brad Chalk, a second-round pick in 2007, to the Pirates and outfielder Quintin Berry to the Mets in the minor league phase of the Rule 5. "We had other guys who took time away from Chalk last season," Smith said. "Berry can run, and he's athletic, but we have some depth in the minors in the outfield."
• The Escondido, Calif., city council voted 4-1 to go forward with a plan to build a 9,000-seat stadium that would house the Padres' Triple-A affiliate. A group headed by Padres owner Jeff Moorad purchased the Portland Beavers (Pacific Coast) and will move to Escondido when the ballpark is completed in time for the 2013 season. The team plans to play in Tucson until then.