2009 Analysis: Tobi Stoner

tobi-stoner-handstandThe 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.

Tags:

Joe Janish began MetsToday in 2005 to provide the unique perspective of a high-level player and coach -- he earned NCAA D-1 All-American honors as a catcher and coached several players who went on to play pro ball. As a result his posts often include mechanical evaluations, scout-like analysis, and opinions that go beyond the numbers. Follow Joe's baseball tips on Twitter at @onbaseball and at the On Baseball Google Plus page.
  1. CatchDog October 25, 2009 at 8:12 am
    At the very least, I wish Tobi success just for the opportunity to see a plethora of “Stoner” jerseys at the park.
  2. Harry Chiti October 25, 2009 at 2:01 pm
    Guys like Stoner and Evans vanished because the hideous manager acted as if the team was in the thick of a pennant race. Plus, Jerry can evaluate in a second. I guess his method shows as the team as a whole, while injured, still played totally uninspired ball. I guess they knew that Jerry was best at going into the presser and throwing anyone under the bus he felt liek. So the bench was probably the best place for poor Stoner.
  3. Brian October 26, 2009 at 3:10 pm
    Do you think that Jerry and Omar would have still been safe if the brain trust hadn’t declared them so way back in July and then the season ended this way? He basically told them that they didn’t have to work this year and so Jerry stopped thinking, but he doesn’t want to go back on his word after saying it unprovoked then.
    As for Tobi, kid has obviously got something going for him to make it this far with not overpowering stuff. Could be the type of guy you actually want at the back of your rotation because he seems like he would give you 200 solid innings of average pitching, but consistently average.
    And I would love some Stoner merchandise.