Alas, poor Stoner!
As reported on the club's 'Mets Farm Report' twitter feed the Mets have released Tobi Stoner, Eric Niesen, Nick Carr, Roy Merritt, Chris Hilliard, Ronny Morla, Steve Winnick, Lucas Stewart, & Chase Greene. Nothing too earth-shattering here, but there are a couple of post mortems worth discussing.
We all remember the smartly named RHP Tobi Stoner from his brief time at the major league level late in '09 and early in '10. After a solid 2009 season where he posted a 3.55 ERA between Double and Triple-A, it looked like he might be a nice back of the bullpen/swingman-type option going forward -- a la Chris Schwinden. Alas, he would subsequently battle through numerous arm injuries and was never quite the same, posting a 6+ ERA over the next two seasons. Click here for an interview I conducted with him on the topic before the 2011 season.
Perhaps the only moderate surprise on this list is the flamethrowing RHP Nick Carr. The 24-yr old one-time 41st rounder was the only player from this group that was ranked on the AA Top 50 Prospect List (no. 45) and the only one who had any chance to realistically make an impact on the Mets in 2012. Here's what I said about him:
"Armed with the high-90's heat that has always made him dangerous, he finally looked to be turning the corner as his command was straightening out and he'd dominated the competition in the FSL. That's when the injury bug returned and curtailed his season. He continued to miss bats upon returning but his control reverted back to 4+ BB/9 levels and he now once again resembles quite a question mark moving forward."
That pretty much says it all. Carr might handsomely reward some team willing to take a flier on him as his power arm could move really fast. But chances are better that he's one of those great arms that never makes it due to health. TINSTAPP.
Next are a couple of lefthanders who both had the chance at LOOGY status but obviously faltered. 26-yr old Eric Niesen was a third rounder out of Wake Forest in the Mets bullpen-heavy '07 draft. He was the proud owner of a nasty mid-90's fastball/razor sharp slider combo which as you can see below could be extremely effective:
However, Niesen battled arm issues/mechanical problems and afterwards was never quite as electric -- or commanding -- after returning, posting a 7.94 ERA with Bingo in 2011.
Roydrick Merritt is another 26-yr old and like Carr he was a very late-rounder taken in the 29th back in fateful 2007. He's been a slow riser but posted solid results at nearly every level -- earning Pitcher of the Year honors in Bingo back in '09 -- always faring very well against fellow southpaws thanks to his nearly sidearm delivery. Problem is he doesn't have great stuff and he's regressed of late (5.25 ERA in '11), making him somewhat expendable in the mold of a Chuck James, Garrett Olson-type.
OF Chase Greene is just 21 and is a guy I always kept an eye on thanks to his extreme athleticism. The shortstop was taken out of a Florida high school in the 16th round in 2009 and offered over-slot money ($125k) to avoid a strong commitment to Univ. of South Florida. The Mets immediately converted him to center thanks to his excellent speed, but it always seemed like minor, nagging injuries kept him from ever catching a groove as a pro. He batted .256 with one homer and three stolen bases in 29 games with the Cyclones in 2011 and represents a mildly interesting athlete on a flier.
RHP Ronny Morla is a 23-yr old hard-thrower who the Mets grabbed from the Cubs system in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft back in 2010. He put up some good numbers out of the Savannah 'pen in 2011 but despite his nice 6'3" frame his offerings aren't really anything special. More proof that there's almost never any useable talent in the minor league Rule 5.
LHP Chris Hilliard is a middling lefty drafted in the 38th round back in '08. His highest distinction was being the luckiest member of the 2011 Cyclones starting staff, receiving boatloads of runs and winning 10 games in 14 starts.