2009 Analysis: Tobi Stoner
The photo to the left sort of sums up the season for Tobi Stoner, one that seemed destined for a storybook ending, but somehow fell short. You might say it was … upended.
Stoner began his journey to the big leagues in Lanstuhl, Germany — though, it quickly transferred to a small town in western Maryland, and proceeded through the relatively unknown Garrett College and a tiny liberal arts college called Davis & Elkins — where he was randomly discovered by a scout whose intention was to watch an opposing hitter.
“The scout had actually come to see the other team’s best hitter, but I struck him out.”
It was a case of right place, right time for the small-town, German-born boy, as Stoner pitched the game of his life and was drafted in the 16th round that June. As Stoner himself admits:
“I know there are people who are better than me, who are at home watching TV right now. But just be the best you can be, and if the right person is watching you at the right time, you’re pretty lucky.”
Sounds like a fairly humble guy, no?
Indeed, Stoner’s skill set is only average, but he’s made the most of it. His numbers in the minors are far from dominating — again, only about average — but somehow, some way, he marched up the ladder of the Mets farm system and found himself a big leaguer on September 10th, shutting out the Marlins in one inning of work in his MLB debut.
His second appearance was not as impressive — he was knocked around for three runs in three innings by the Phillies at CBP, allowing two homeruns. His third was better, allowing one run in three innings of mopup duty in Atlanta, and he threw two scoreless innings against the Braves in Citi Field on September 21st.
Then, it was as if he disappeared.
Stoner did not appear in any of the Mets’ final 11 games, despite numerous opportunities to show his wares. As the Mets fell behind in meaningless games against the Marlins, Nationals, and Astros, Stoner sat silently while we watched the likes of Elmer Dessens and Ken Takahashi take the ball. Now, it’s not as if Stoner set the world on fire in his four appearances — to me, his stuff looked ordinary and very hittable — but wasn’t September the time for auditions? The time to see if the previously untested were indeed “prospects” or “suspects” ?
It was something of a mystery, though word of tiff between Stoner and Frankie Rodriguez was reported on a blog almost immediately after Stoner’s last appearance. No Mets official would confirm the rumor, and no journalist supported it, either, and the incident was forgotten — if in fact it ever happened. Strangely, the original blog post has since been deleted. Someone should summon a commission to investigate.
So the small-town-boy-makes-good came to a sudden end, marred by sordid rumors and conspiracy. What does that mean for 2010?
If the story of Stoner’s inability to make nice with his teammates is true, he may never pitch in MLB for the Mets again. His talent is only borderline, and he projects as a long man or middle reliever at best. Though, the fact that he got this far with what he has speaks volumes about his determination and spirit. And if he did brush Mets veterans the wrong way with his attitude and cockiness … I admire him for his spunk.
Perhaps Tobi Stoner is inspired by Dylan Thomas.