Scouting Mets Prospect #12: Tobi Stoner

Stoner is working to return to New York in 2010

Tobi Stoner, drafted in 2006, pitched his way to a big league debut this September. During his time on the farm, Stoner developed the deepest repertoire in the organization. He rode his array of pitches to success in Buffalo and eventually a spot in the Mets bullpen. Now, he looks to put himself in position to regain that spot, or more, in 2010.

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Vital Statistics
Name: Tobi Stoner
DOB: December 3, 1984
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 215
Throws: Right
Bats: Right
Status: 16th Round (2006) – Davis and Elkins College

Slowly but surely, Tobi Stoner made it. The former 16th round pick out of a small college in West Virginia, who was in many ways overlooked in his draft class, made it to the show in 2009 after a steady climb up the organizational ladder. In each of the last three seasons, the right-hander moved up a level mid-year only to return to that affiliate the following season.

That was the case again in 2009 when Stoner began the campaign in Binghamton. From there, he set off on a pace of quality pitching that ultimately led to a promotion to Queens in September. A fast start in Double-A (2-2, 2.68 ERA in seven starts) followed by increasingly strong performances in Triple-A led to a brief but personally successful debut out of the Mets bullpen.

"I was really pleased with the year I had," said Stoner. "I struggled when I first got to Buffalo, but then I got on a roll. I got my first complete game as a professional, I got on a good winning streak and everything started clicking towards the end of the season in Triple-A. I was happy as can be with that, and then I got the call up to New York."

Stoner won only two starts in his first nine outings in Triple-A. Then there was a change in the tides. Stoner went on to win five of his last six decisions with Buffalo, including four in a row to end the season. In 16 Triple-A starts, he went 7-7, leading the Bisons in wins, with a 3.96 ERA in 97.2 innings. He owed that turn around to one key ingredient.

"I was throwing full count changeups with confidence. Guys were fouling off my fastball, but I'd put that changeup in there with confidence and guys would swing through it," Stoner said. "That built up a lot of confidence for me, and I want to go into next year focusing on executing that pitch as much as locating a fastball."

Then the big league club called and on September 10th the right-hander made his debut. He made only four appearances for the Mets and allowed four earned runs in nine innings. Most importantly, however, Stoner used that time to adapt to a role he may be called on to once again fill this season.

"They put me in the bullpen when I got up which was good because I got the experience to be ready to pitch every day. It was different but I'm glad that I got to experience it," he detailed. "I go out there and I have to be sharper because I don't have several innings to find my stuff. I have to find the zone as soon as I come in."

"I don't need to be overwhelmed. I just need to focus on pitch to pitch and I didn't let the size of Major League Baseball take away from my focus. Now, I'm just hoping to stay injury free going into spring training, get a chance to face hitters and put myself in good position for the start of the season. "

Year

Team

W-L

IP

Hits

BB

K

ERA

2009

New York

0-0

9.0

9

3

5

4.00

2009

Buffalo

7-7

97.2

92

34

64

3.96

2009

Binghamton

2-2

47.0

28

13

28

2.68

2008

Binghamton

4-6

79.0

80

29

59

4.33

2008

St. Lucie

1-5

52.0

46

9

48

2.60

2007

St. Lucie

4-5

82.2

90

25

57

4.90

2007

Savannah

3-5

57.1

59

17

50

3.61

2006

Brooklyn

6-2

83.2

66

17

62

2.15



Repertoire: Fastball, Curveball, Slider, Changeup

Fastball: Too often, Stoner has been knocked for his lack of velocity. Other publications incorrectly placed his fastball in the high-80s. This year, Stoner sat 90-92 MPH with downward running action and showed stamina with it. He pitched at that range with Buffalo and kept it up all the way through winter ball. He does not register many strikeouts with the fastball, but the way he hides the ball in his delivery caused his fastball to jump on Triple-A hitters who often did not center the ball. It is not a true swing and miss pitch, but his deception and movement generates a lot of late swings. He is confident enough in the fastball to use it in full counts, but lacks the extra juice to blow it by hitters.

Other Pitches: The changeup became Stoner's best pitch in 2009. He displays very good arm speed, spinning it with good fade and tumble that makes it his swing and miss pitch. Stoner throws his changeup in the high-70s and will use to start at-bats to keep hitters off his fastball, but also goes back to it in a full count to finish off at-bats. He has excellent command and pitches aggressively with his changeup. His 84-86 MPH slider is his better breaking ball which he will use to pound the lower third of the strike zone. He commands it very well and does not hesitate to throw it inside to right-handers and its late break baits left-handers. He rounds off his repertoire with a curveball which he decreased in use this season. He throws it 79-81 MPH with solid 10-to-4 break, but his command was spotty and he limits its use to right-handers.

Pitching: Stoner is a true gamer on the mound, one who pitches with his guts and pitches aggressively in the strike zone. He possesses a very clean, repeatable delivery with good finish that provides him stamina and consistency with his pitches. His quick tempo commands the pace of at-bats. He attacks with the fastball and does not hesitate to his any of his pitches in any count. His sequencing and pitchability are the product of a very strong pitching acumen. He is a fly ball pitcher who gave up his share of home runs, but otherwise limited contact and gave up less than one hit per inning every season in the minors.

Projection: Stoner's average fastball velocity pushes him to the back of the rotation at his highest ceiling. However, his array of pitches, high baseball I.Q. and work ethic will make him a big league arm that can stay on a 25-man roster either as a fourth or fifth starter, or as a reliever. Given the lack of pitching depth across baseball, there is room for a low risk, polished pitcher like Stoner.

ETA: N/A. As projected a year ago, Stoner made his big league debut in 2009. He will arrive in spring training in competition for a spot on the 25-man roster. If he does not make the team outright, he will return to Buffalo and serve as a starter until he is recalled. Nevertheless, Stoner will see additional big league time in 2010.

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