Jeurys Familia Sharp In First Double-A Start

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With so much bad news about the Mets’ pitching staff in the past week or so, it’s nice to know there are some positives down on the farm.  After tearing up St. Lucie, Jeurys Familia earned a well-deserved promotion to double-A Binghamton.  Last night, he made his double-A debut against the New Britain Rock Cats, an affiliate of the Minnesota Twins, and picked up right where he left off at St. Lucie.

Familia tossed seven innings at home against New Britain, allowing two runs (one earned) on just five hits, walking none while fanning six.  The righty from Santo Domingo faced adversity immediately after he took the mound, allowing a leadoff single and an error.  However, he induced a ground ball double play to minimize the damage and trailed 1-0 after one inning.  He yielded the second run in the fourth inning, but nothing further after that.

In his first test at the double-A level, Familia, who won’t be 22 until October 10th, performed well in the face of adversity.  As mentioned above, he had to deal with some shaky defense, but was able to get himself out of trouble with a double play.  But also of note is that when Familia left the game, his team had yet to score a run.  There are probably some pitchers, especially young ones, who would get frustrated when his offense doesn’t perform, and that frustration could adversely impact the pitcher’s performance.  To his credit, Familia did his job inning after inning, keeping the B-Mets in the game until the offense finally broke through in the bottom of the seventh (they went on to win 5-2).  Combined with his single-A numbers, which now totals to 43.1 innings, Familia now owns a sparkling 1.45 ERA and a 0.785 WHIP with 42 strikeouts and just eight walks.

Once again, the improved command has been a huge key to Familia’s success.  For a guy who walked 5.5 batters per nine innings to have issued only eight free passes so far this year is outstanding.  In order to sustain his success and eventually move up the ladder, Familia will need to continue to work on his secondary pitches, his slider and changeup.  Baseball America rated his slider as the best in the Mets organization, but according to one American League scout who saw Familia’s final game at St. Lucie, the pitch, along with his change, need some more work.

Despite his success, Mets VP of Player Development Paul DePodesta doesn’t see Familia moving up the majors at any point in 2011, which is probably the right move.  DePodesta stated that it’s generally a good idea for pitchers to log 100 innings above single-A, which will translate to somewhere around 15-20 starts (depending on performance) as well as the end of the season.  Given the Mets’s recent history of rushing guys through the system, it’s comforting to hear that DePodesta and the new regime is concerned with long-term development.  Toby Hyde predicts Familia’s MLB arrival will be in September of 2012, which would give the Dominican time to finish the season at Binghamton and perhaps start next year at Buffalo.  Of course, plans could change if Familia dominates double-A and earns another promotion late this season, which could speed things up by a few months.  Still, don’t expect him to be near the major league rotation until mid-2012 at the earliest.

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