A few familiar names crossed the Atlantic League transaction wire last week.
Timoniel Perez, an outfielder for the New York Mets from 2000-2003, signed with the Long Island Ducks on July 6th. The 37-year-old veteran of eight major league seasons and his Ducks teammate Armando Benitez are likely the last two active players who were part of the Mets last World Series team. The Ducks are managed by 1990-93 Mets infielder Kevin Baez, and Mets Hall of Famer Bud Harrelson is a part-time coach and part-owner of the team.
Pitchers Tobi Stoner and Sean Green signed with the Somerset Patriots last week. Stoner had short cups of coffee with the Mets in 2009 and 2010. Green spent 2009 and 2010 with the Mets after coming over in a three-team, 12-player deal that also brought J.J. Putz to New York. While Green was a reliever during his six-year major league career, it appears that the Patriots plan to use him as a starter.
Jorge Julio, a pitcher for the 2006 New York Mets team, is playing for the Bridgeport Bluefish. Chin-lung Hu, an infielder on last year’s Mets team, had been playing for the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs until he was placed on the inactive list this weekend.
The Can-Am League, the other independent baseball league with teams in New Jersey, has roster rules that limit teams’ ability to sign players with major league experience. The New Jersey Jackals have the only former Met — 2009 Mets infielder Angel Berroa — on their roster. Berroa spent nine years in the big leagues and was the 2003 American League Rookie of the Year.
Atlantic League spring training is underway, and there are quite a few former New York Mets players on the rosters.
Reliever Jorge Julio (2006) is back for his second season with the Bridgeport Bluefish. Pitcher Tobi Stoner (2009-10) will make his Atlantic League debut with Bridgeport after being released from the Mets organization this spring. Outfielder Prentice Redman (2003) will also return for his second season with the Bluefish.
Kevin Baez (1990, 1992-3) is back for his second season as the Long Island Ducks’ manager and his 10th with the organization. Bud Harrelson (1965-77) is a co-owner of the team and is likely to be seen at some games at Bethpage Ballpark this year. While none of the players on the Ducks’ roster ever appeared in a game for the New York Mets, pitcher Eric Niesen was one of the minor leaguers released by the Mets organization this spring.
Infielder Chin-Lung Hu (2011) will make his Atlantic League debut with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs this year.
Pitcher Tim Hamulack (2005) returns to the Lancaster Barnstormers for his third Atlantic League season.
The Somerset Patriots don’t have any former New York Mets players, but pitcher Roy Merritt had been part of the Mets organization until he was released this spring.
I don’t see any former Mets on the spring training rosters of the Camden Riversharks, Sugarland Skeeters or York Revolution either, though there are undoubtedly more players who spent time in the Mets organization on the rosters of the eight Atlantic League teams.
At the moment, it seems as though you’d have better luck checking rosters by visiting the individual team websites than going to AtlanticLeague.com. The league site has incomplete or 2011 information for several teams.
In a few weeks, I’ll take a look at the rosters of the five Can-Am League teams to see how many players I can find with ties to the New York Mets organization.
David Wright played in his first baseball game since last September yesterday afternoon, and he got a hit in his first at-bat. Maybe this is a good omen for his 2012 season… and it least it should mark the end of stories about him taking batting practice.
The New York Mets released nine minor leaguers on Monday, including Tobi Stoner who appeared in five big league games in 2009 and 2010. I met Stoner, Eric Niesen and Roy Merritt when they played for the Binghamton Mets. Stoner and Niesen both seemed like nice guys (or at least nice enough to sign a few baseball cards for me) and I saw Stoner pitch a seven-inning complete game shutout against the Trenton Thunder in 2009. Merritt, on the other hand, was one of the least pleasant people to ask for an autograph and I remember him giving up a walk-off homer to the Trenton Thunder’s backup catcher the first time I ever saw him pitch.
Chris Young is once again part of the New York Mets organization, signing a minor league contract on Monday. If the Mets didn’t appear to have strict financial constraints, I wouldn’t mind this gamble. But it doesn’t seem to me that Young is all that likely to contribute this season, so I’d have preferred to see the Mets save their money to wait and see if anyone more likely to help becomes available this week.
Players are eligible to be taken in the draft if he is not on a Major League 40-man roster and:
signed at 19 or over as part of the 2008 draft class or earlier
signed at 18 or younger during 2007 or earlier.
The Mets added lefthanded pitcher Robert Carson, righthanded pitcher Jeurys Familia, infielder Wilmer Flores, infielder Reese Havens, outfielder Juan Lagares, outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis and outfielder Cesar Puello to the 40-man roster.
Toby Stoner is just the 29th player born in Germany to reach the major leagues. That bit of trivia and his unique last name are the two bits of trivia that may make him stand out a little in the memory of Mets fans a few years down the road.
Stoner appeared in five major league games for the Mets between 2009 and 2010, but I suspect there’s a better chance that he’ll be pitching for an independent league team in 2012 than returning to Citi Field.
After a disappointing season at Triple-A Buffalo in 2010 when Stoner went 6-10 with a 5.97 ERA and 1.666 WHIP, he split this season between Single-A St. Luice and Double-A Binghamton.
On the plus side, this gave me a chance to get my 2008 St. Lucie Mets team set card autographed when the B-Mets visited Trenton this summer.
Unfortunately, Stoner didn’t have much success at the lower levels of the Mets’ farm system. In 18 games at Double-A (all but two were starts), Stoner went 4-6 with a 5.76 ERA and a 1.511 WHIP. Add in his three appearances with St. Lucie, and his line for the year is 5-7 with a 6.05 ERA and 1.514 WHIP.