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Alongside top prospects Ike Davis, Jenrry Mejia and Ike Davis, the Mets also sent unheralded 21-year old RHP Josh Stinson to the Arizona Fall League.  After winning the 2006 Sterling Award for the Gulf Coast League, Stinson put up a pair of unremarkable seasons in ’07 and ’08 for Savannah.  However, moved to the bullpen fulltime in 2009, the sturdily built 6’4” Stinson flourished.

He was 2-2 in 42.1 IP with Savannah with 49 strikeouts against just ten walks with the Gnats, an impressive k/rate of 10.4 with a K/BB of 4.9.  In St. Lucie, he was 3-1 with six saves with a 1.98 ERA.  His strikeout rate declined slightly down to 8.7 k/9 while his walk rate jumped to 4.7 BB/9.

Stinson, credits former GCL Mets Pitching Coach Rob Ellis for teaching him a new trick, that made all the difference:

“Last year in Hawaii, Rob Ellis, me and him got together and worked on a slider.  I definitely think that’s one of the biggest things that helped me this year.  I’ve been able to have my curveball and my slider.  I felt like the slider was a better putaway pitch, because you’ve got the velocity and I throw a throw a two-seam and it looks the same except the other way.”
In truth, it was more a return to the offering for Stinson who had scrapped the slider after it failed to deliver results for him in 2007.

“I had a curve and slider in my first year in Savannah in ’07 as a starter, but my slider was more like a slurve and it was the same speed as my curveball so it was just different paths.  …. Towards the end of the year, I just stopped throwing it.  I was just fastball, sinker, curveball and change up.  To heck with this slurve.  But then last year, I was out in Hawaii and me and Rob were messing around one day, and I throwing in the outfield and was trying to throw the slider.  And he was like, “you’re doing it all wrong.  You’re doing it this way (demonstrates snapping the wrist, as though delivering a curveball) instead of just staying through it and changing your grip.  So he showed me the grip he used.  I started throwing it the second or third week out there, and really liked it.  … It’s just finger staying through the ball.  The way I used to do was to try to get on the side and it would sweep.  It’s sharper and it’s harder.  Now my slider’s like 83, 84.    … That was a big thing with Rob, ‘don’t baby it.  Throw it like your fastball with just a different finger pressure at the release.’”
Of course, Stinson also points to an increased familiarity with his role in 2009 for his solid season.

“It was kinda getting used to the bullpen.  Last year, I was back and forth, back and forth.  You don’t have to save it for five or six innings; you just go out there for one or two and blow all you got.  As a reliever… it’s a lot of adrenaline.  I enjoyed throwing more often.  As a starter, if you have a bad start, you gotta wait five days to get back out there, as a reliever, you might throw the next day.
Outside of baseball, Stinson gets his rush hunting.

“I hunt, when that deer walks out, it gets going a little bit, but you gotta control it because if it gets going too much, you won’t be able to see out of that scope.  You gotta control your breathing.  Your heart’s going to be going anyway.    I way I’ve always done it when I’ve shot is take a deep breath in, and then right as I’m about to shoot, I exhale so there’s no movement.  … and then boom.”
Stinson had trouble locating his fastball and offspeed offerings Monday in the desert.  As you can see in the video below, both the slider and the fastball at 91 mph have good movement, but so much that they were out of the zone.  If he's ever going to be a major league reliever, his control simply has to improve.

It would not be at all surprising if the Mets had him break spring training with AA-Binghamton, where his ability to throw strikes will be tested by more advanced hitters.

Look for more video of Ike Davis, Reese Havens, Jenrry Mejia and Scott Moviel coming very soon.  -T

Tags: Arizona Fall League, Josh Stinson , Toby Hyde
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