Since last October, the Blue Jays have claimed 20 players on waivers, the most of any team in the league. Mickey Storey was claim #6, back on December 19, 2012, although few fans took notice, as they were still celebrating the acquisition of R.A. Dickey from the Mets, which happened just two days before.
Storey took a long and winding road to get to the Blue Jays. He was a 31st-round pick by the Oakland Athletics back in 2008 out of the Florida Atlantic University and played in the Athletics organization before he was traded to the Astros for "future considerations."
Last season started off great for the native of Fort Lauderdale: he got married, his new wife gave birth to a daughter, and he made it up to the major leagues on August 3, 2012 after excelling in AAA Oklahoma City. Down in OKC last season he struck out 26% of the batters he faced while only walking 5%. He continued the rate after his call-up, maintaining a 27 K% and 8 BB% through 30 innings alongside a 3.86 ERA.
"I was able to achieve my dream and make it to the major leagues, and I pitched for more than two months and did well," Storey told John Manuel of Baseball America.
But, he was placed on waivers by the Astros right before the Rule 5 draft, was claimed by the Yankees on November 20 and remained on their 40-man roster until December 6, when the Yankees re-signed Mariano Rivera. Houston had seller's regret and re-claimed Storey off waivers. In the interview with John Manuel, Storey claimed that the Astros had told him he would not be exposed to waivers again. However, when the 'Stros needed roster room to sign Carlos Pena on December 17, they designated Storey for assignment, which led him to the Blue Jays a couple days later.
Then Storey time was Canzelled when he was DFAed again two days later when the Jays claimed Russ Canzler. This time, however, he slipped through and was outrighted off the 40-man roster. Yes, he might have been somewhat relieved that he wasn't going to move again, but he lost a place on a big league roster, which is especially tough because it means that he no longer qualifies for major league health insurance.
Storey wasn't happy being bounced around three different organization after his 2012 started so well: "I could see the humor in it if I had a bad year, but I didn't. It was my best year. It's left a bad taste in my mouth."
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Mickey Storey has a strange arsenal. He was tabbed as a "reliever without a fastball" by FanGraphs, because he throws his high-80s fastball just 37% of the time (compared to an average of 61% among relievers). But as you can tell from his high strikeout rate that he does have some swing-and-miss weapons, namely his slider (21% whiff rate) and change up (20% whiff rate) as noted by Andrew Stoeten. Against right-handed batters he would use his slider in two-strike counts and against lefties he would use his curveball. He's a fly ball pitcher, with batters hitting it in the air 50% of the time last season, but he was saved by an extremely low 5% home run-to-fly ball ratio.
Although he was more effective against lefties in the major leagues last season (.167/.232/.222 vs LHB, .269/.337/.449 vs RHB), I would atrribute that to small sample size syndrome. Combining MLB and PCL numbersfor 2012, we see that righties hit .222/.274/.368 off of him while lefties recorded a .276/.329/.408 slash line.
This season in Buffalo where he recorded 17 innings, he improved his impressive strikeout rate to 33%, but his walk rate also went up to 9%, with batters hitting just .222 against him. I spoke with the Bisons' play-by-play announcer Ben Wagner, who praised the 27-year old for his great command.
"[His] slider mix has been a great weapon for a put away pitch or even in some cases to set up the fastball and create swing and misses. The pitch command plus the ability to provide length out of the pen has been key," Wagner reported, adding that Storey has pitched multiple innings in six out of his nine appearances. Storey generally worked with 2 days' rest between outings.
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Wearing Dave Stieb's (and most recently Aaron Laffey's) #37, Mickey Storey, who throws his fastball 37% of the time, made his Blue Jays debut Friday night in the club's 37th game of its 37th season.
His outing was pretty much as Mickey Storey as it gets. He struck out Mike Napoli swinging by throwing an 80 mph slider following an 89 mph four-seamer, then later in the game he also struck out Stephen Drew on a 71 mph curveball. Storey faced seven batters Friday night, striking out the above-mentioned two, induced one ground out, with everyone else hitting a fly ball. Two of them were easy fly outs, but two of them were loud doubles: Daniel Nava drove one off the monster, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia drove one about a foot from the base of the right field wall.
I doubt that his sub-5% career HR/FB rate would sustain itself forever (I wonder how he will do in a closed Rogers Centre), but he is one of the more exciting pitchers to come up from the Bisons this season. He can give the team 2-3 innings if (err, when) needed, and it's always nice to see a pitcher with high strikeout rates since he won't need to rely too heavily on the defense behind him. To boot, he also gives good post-game interviews, according to The Buffalo News' Amy Moritz. Another plus is that Storey still has three full option years remaining, so he would not need to be exposed to waivers before being sent down to the minors. Borrowing Stoeten's term, Storey is "intriguing" so let's run him out there to see what he can do. Let's hope that he has an even better 2013 than 2012.