Former Thunder pitchers George Kontos and Lance Pendleton, both right-handers, were selected in the Major League phase of Thursday’s 2010 Rule 5 Draft, while the Yankees took left-hander Robert Fish (Angels) and right-hander Daniel Turpen (Red Sox).
Kontos was taken by San Diego, which plans to try him as a reliever, while Pendleton was selected by Houston, which will give him a shot as a starter. Both players had their contracts purchased for $50,000. They must remain on the selecting teams’ 25-man rosters throughout 2011 or be returned to the Yankees for $25,000.
Several observers thought righty Craig Heyer, who was 8-4, 3.62 with a strikeout/walk ratio of 66-6 at Class-A Advanced Tampa would be selected after he got high marks for his performance in the Arizona Fall League. He will be part of the 2011 Thunder pitching staff and can both start and relieve.
Kontos, 25, and the Yankees’ fifth-round pick in the 2006 Draft out of Northwestern, was 6-11, 3.68 in 27 starts with the Thunder in 2008, putting together a strikeout/walk ratio of 152-57 in 151.2 innings.
He seemed on his way in 2009, earning a promotion to Triple-A Scranton after recording a 1-1, 2.66 mark with the Thunder. But after nine starts in Scranton, in which he went 3-4, 3.35, he felt discomfort in his pitching arm and underwent Tommy John surgery.
Kontos spent most of the 2010 season with the Thunder as a reliever as he worked to regain his velocity. In 17 relief appearances, he was 0-2, 3.38 and, as expected after surgery, showed some inconsistency. His Arizona Fall League performance – 1-2, 12.50 in 10 appearances – was also ragged.’
It was no surprise Houston general manager Ed Wade selected Pendleton, 27, who was coming off a solid 12-5, 3.61 season in which he went 10-4, 3.43 for the Thunder. His command improved as he went along in 2010.
He was named Eastern League Pitcher of the Week July 26 and was selected to pitch in the Eastern League All-Star Game, but did not appear in the contest. Pendleton was 32-22 in five minor-league seasons with the Yankees and has a career WHIP of 1.206
“A lot of teams will look at Pendleton, because a guy like him is an excellent option for a low-cost back-of-the-rotation starter,’’ said a scout from a National League team.
Pendleton, a native of Kingwood, Texas, was a fourth-round pick by the Yankees from Rice in the 2005 draft.
Neither Fish nor Turpen are expected to stick with the Yankees.
Fish, 22, originally a sixth-round pick out of high school from Montclair, Calif., in the 2006 Draft, had his best season in 2008, going 10-4, 4.85 at Class A Cedar Rapids of the Northwest League. The Angels made him a reliever because his velocity seemed to drop after 90 pitches.
He had a tough time of it at Arkansas in 2010, compiling a 3.5, 8.93 mark in 39 relief appearances. The Yankees are likely looking at him as a one-inning or situational lefty. His delivery is somewhat unorthodox.
Turpen, 24, faced the Thunder with both Richmond and Portland in 2010, as he was 7-6, 4.30 with four saves in 49 combined bullpen appearances wrapped around a mid-season trade from the San Francisco system to Boston for reliever Ramon Ramirez, another former Thunder pitcher.
An eight-round pick by the Giants in the 2007 draft out of McMinville, Ore., he is a sinker-slider pitcher with good size (6-4, 230).