Sterling was a 1st round draft pick of the Mets in 1969, and the 4th overall pick in the draft. He pitched in the minor leagues from 1969 to 1975. He pitched for the Tidewater Tides at the AAA level from 1973 to 1975. In 1973, he pitched 27 games with a 10-9 won-lost record and a 3.04 earned run average. In 1974 he pitched 28 games with a 12-11 won lost record and a 3.39 earned run average, earning a promotion to the Mets in September. His final professional season was 1975, in which he pitched 29 games for Tidewater, with a 10-11 won lost record and a 3.57 earned run average.