Q & A with Tobi Stoner
by: Patrick Hickey, Jr. | Senior Writer - NY Sports Day | Saturday, March 10, 2007

One of the Cyclones best pitchers during the 2006 season, 22-year old Tobi Stoner was a pleasant surprise, leading the team in strikeouts and wins. Now with the 2007 NY-Penn League season just a few months away, the former Davis & Elkins University star sits down with the NY Sports Day.

Sports Day: Which position player on the Cyclones team do you think has the highest ceiling and why? What do you like about his game and what do you think he needs to work on the most in order to develop into a big leaguer?

Tobi Stoner: Dustin Martin. Heís got it all; heís got the size, the work ethic, heís got an arm, heís fast and heís a clutch hitter. Heís probably the leader on this team offensively. Overall, Heís just an amazing athlete. Heís a smart guy that works really hard, all I think he has to work on is his ability to hit off-speed pitches and heís there. Heís going to do whatever it takes to get to higher levels.

Sports Day: Which pitcher do you think has the highest big league upside and why?

Stoner: I would say Jake Ruckle because his windup is crazy and has a great changeup. Thatís probably his best pitch. His windup is so deceiving. Itís different, you donít see it everyday. Thatís what makes him so special.

Sports Day: Who do you think is the biggest sleeper prospect, position prospect or pitcher? Who do you think will fly under the radar, doesn't get the attention he deserves, but will become a quality big leaguer?

Stoner: Jeremy Hambrice. He hasnít gotten too much of an opportunity to show his ability. He plays the infield, outfield and lately theyíve tried him at catcher in practice before. Heís just so versatile. I really believe when he comes out of his shell, heís going to blow some minds and show people that heís a legitimate prospect.

Sports Day: Heading into the offseason, what do you need to work on the most to be ready for next season and what will you be doing to work on it?

Stoner: Iím not sure because everything that Iíve done so far here has been successful, so I want to try and stick with that and not change much. Iím just going to focus on my strength and conditioning and try and become a little bit more consistent with my pitches.

Sports Day: What would you say is your biggest strength as a ball player? What do you bring to the field and to your team?

Stoner: Leadership and enthusiasm. I really feel that when Iím on the mound everything is in control and I feel my teammates feed off of my energy and are confident when Iím on the mound. Considering that, I think it definitely works in my favor to have my teammates charged up like that when Iím out there and they know that I need them to be on top of their games as well for me to be successful, so it goes hand in hand.

Sports Day: What did you think of your season last year? How do you think it went for you?

Stoner: I had a great season, I couldnít have asked for a better start. My numbers really donít show much, but Iím not a numbers guy. I know that Iíve gone out there and played to the best of my ability every time Iíve gone out there and Iíve helped the team win. Thatís what really matters to me. I feel I had a great season.

Sports Day: Tells us about your repertoire. What kind of pitches do you throw and at what speeds? What is your strikeout pitch? Which pitch needs the most work? Is there a pitch you'd like to develop?

Stoner: I throw a fastball, curveball, changeup and a slider. I even throw a knuckleball every once in a while; maybe once or twice a game if that much. I can throw any pitch I have at any time. I really donít have a strikeout pitch. I have a good fastball; I feel I can spot it really well. The one pitch I think I have to work is my changeup. When itís working, itís a great pitch, but I have to learn to be as consistent as possible with it.

Sports Day: To give our fans a better idea of the type of pitcher you are, who would you compare your game to at the Major League level and why?

Stoner: Thereís no one Iíve really ever compared myself to because Iím Tobi Stoner and I donít try and compare myself to anyone or idolize anyone. Sure, Pedro Martinez and John Smoltz are great pitchers, but I think if I keep doing what Iím doing, Iíll be more successful than if I try and emulate someone else.