In 2002, the San Diego Padres selected George Kottaras in the 20th round of the draft with the 595th overall pick.
In 2004, he put together a solid 78 games with the Fort Wayne Wizards, collecting 84 hits, 40 runs, 18 doubles, 7 home runs and driving in 46 runs while drawing 51 walks over 271 at-bats. He boasted a .310 average, a .415 on base percentage and a .461 slugging percentage.
Also in 2004, Kottaras played in the Olympics, where he served as first baseman and backup catcher for the Greece team. He collected three hits to help the team come from behind and defeat Italy 11-7. It was the team’s first and only win.
The following year, he did well at the High-A level, batting .303 before his promotion to Double-A Mobile. Since that time, his average has been pretty much on the decline. He was traded to the Boston Red Sox in September of 2006 to complete an Aug 31 trade for David Wells.
Today, he remains in the Rod Sox farm system where he is in the second consecutive season with Triple-A Pawtucket. As a Minor Leaguer who hasn’t yet gotten even a cup of coffee with a big league club, Kottaras has been an All-Star twice in addition to his other achievements.
Given the lackluster performances of Boston’s catchers this season and Jason Veritek’s impending free agency, I thought we’d get a chance to see Kottaras this season. Yet, with Kevin Cash emerging as the heir to Doug Mirabelli in catching Tim Wakefield’s knuckleball, and Veritek’s status as a BoSox living legend, it’s doubtful. And now, it appears that the Red Sox are targeting catchers in the trade market (perhaps they may be after the Texas Rangers’ Taylor Teagarden, who was recently sent back to Triple-A after a short stint with the big club.
On a bright note, Kottaras seems to have found his power stroke this year, however. On the season, he’s hitting .235 with a career high 19 home runs and 55 RBI’s. He’s drawn 52 walks and struck out 84 times in 307 at-bats. Three of his dingers have come in the last ten games.
Photo by Chad Gramling