Scouting Mets Prospect #34: Josh Stinson

Stinson made big improvements in 2008

Perseverance and effort can do amazing things for prospects who hit adversity early in their careers. Such is the case for Josh Stinson who, in his third season, made big strides and alleviated the beliefs of some that his game would not come together. A shift in roles made skeptics reconsider previous notions about the right-hander's future.

Vital Statistics:
Name: Josh Stinson
DOB: March 14, 1988
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 210
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Status: 37th Round Pick (2006) – Northwood High School (GA)

With a determined work ethic and measurable improvements, Josh Stinson is giving the Mets plenty of reasons to not count him out. It may feel as if Stinson has been around forever, but it cannot be overlooked that he did not turn 20 years old until one month prior to the 2008 season. It is even more important to recognize that only 27 of the 236 innings he logged in his career to date have come below A-level ball.

Stinson was put in as challenging of a position as any young pitcher could imagine. After just nine games in the Gulf Coast League as a high school graduate in 2006, he was reassigned to the South Atlantic League and remained there through late 2008.

Heading into the 2008 there were questions about Stinson's makeup and the development, or lack thereof, in his repertoire. Yet, as he fights on, Stinson is showing on-lookers they should not count him out. He is doing so through the rapid maturity of his approach and understanding how important consistency plays into pitching at the professional level.

"[2007] really helped me this season because I was still rather fresh out of high school when I felt like I could throw it by everybody, but that isn't going to happen in this league or any other league in professional baseball. I need to stay consistent," he said

"I have more confidence this year, taking the belief that the hitters are in trouble rather than me. I think the improvements this year are a little both mental and physical, staying prepared for the entire season," he added.

The Mets simplified things for Stinson by moving him to the bullpen where he made 20 of his 28 appearances this season. The move laid a groundwork for consistency, specifically with his fastball which Stinson admitted was key to his turnaround.

"The bullpen was a totally different element for me," Stinson said. "But my fastball control was a big part of it. Being able to consistently throw my fastball for strikes, it has helped me stay calm on the mound knowing I can throw that or my sinker to get the groundball I need to."

"Now, I'm not afraid to go after hitters and mix in other pitches in the strike zone. I'm planning what I'm going to throw when I'm in jams and throwing breaking pitches more confidently which is what I lacked last year.

Pitching coordinator Rick Waits, who has worked with Stinson since he arrived in the system, has also seen the difference. Having work with the right-hander each step of the way, he too is confident the changes Stinson has made will soon pay off.

"He has real good movement on his fastball and in his own mind didn't realize that and didn't maximize implementing that into his pitching. He has a good fastball with good sinking movement. He's got a curveball and a slider and I think we're realizing his slider is better than his curveball, even though he has a good curveball and he'll continue to throw his curveball," Waits explained.

"He's a real good worker and really got ahead early in his career. He's battled a little bit with his confidence, but to me he's overcome every hurdle that's been put in front of him. This is a pitcher that is still has got two and a half years under his belt and is still only 20 years old and I think he'll put together next year and be a strong pitcher."

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2008

St. Lucie

0-2

14.2

17

5

14

6.14

2008

Savannah

3-6

71.2

78

32

46

3.52

2007

Savannah

3-11

109.1

131

33

52

4.86

2006

Hagerstown

0-1

13.1

11

4

5

1.35

2006

GCL

1-2

27.0

27

5

14

2.00



Repertoire: Fastball, Slider, Curveball, Changeup

Fastball: The velocity of Stinson's four-seam fastball actually increased this year following improved strength and conditioning heading into the season. His four-seamer sat 90-92 MPH but more important was his significantly better control with the pitch. He does a better job of spotting his fastball on the corners and the increase in velocity has enhanced his confidence to throw it inside. He mixes in a sinking two-seam fastball that sits a few ticks behind his four-seamer. It is his essential groundball pitch as it dives through the zone. He threw the pitch too often earlier in his career, but thanks to the improvements of his four-seam fastball, he now mixes in his two-seam fastball with deception making it an even more effective pitch.

Other Pitches: Over the course of the season, Stinson lessened the use of his near plus curveball for his slider. Previously, his slider was merely an add-on to his repertoire but its rapid development and his ability to throw consistently it for strikes forced him to rely on it more than his curveball. That is not to stay his curveball is any less sharp, but he does struggle keeping his big hook in the zone for strikes. He will not shy away from throwing his curveball in any count, but he stuck more with the slider in a relief role because of his precision with it. His changeup is his third or fourth option depending on his feel for it during any given outing. When thrown properly, it moves similar to his two-seamer without the running action, tumbling through the bottom of the zone in the mid-70s.

Pitching: Despite the deep repertoire, Stinson will never be one to rack up a large number of strikeouts. Command and pitching to contact are his game as he works his breaking pitches off his fastball. He is pitching with a lot of confidence for the first time in his career and it is coming through with production. That confidence reinforces his attacking technique as he pounds the lower-third of the strike zone with lots of movement.

Projection: Whether this upcoming season or the next, Stinson should return to the rotation and build upon a future opportunity to become a steady arm in the back of a big league rotation. However, this past season showed that Stinson has the ability to be an effective reliever, but he is still too young with too many pitches for us to believe he will remain there for the long haul. The Mets have now seen Stinson's ability as a reliever so a future in that role cannot be ruled out. The next two years in A-ball and Double-A ball will dictate his ultimate role at the highest level.

ETA: 2011. Stinson wrapped up 2008 with a brief stint in St. Lucie and will likely return there to kick off the new season. A late-season promotion to Binghamton is possible though his performance will obviously determine that decision. Nonetheless, the growth he demonstrated this past season leaves us confident he will make his big league debut after he notches two more years of experience.

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