One of my favorite Mets prospects to follow this season has been right-handed starting pitcher Jeurys Familia. For the reason, every few starts I will update the status of the Mets pitching prospect in a series called “Following Jeurys Familia” (hopefully this series will continue into next season and all the way to the majors). After making six starts at St. Lucie, the Dominican was promoted to Double A Binghamton. With a heater in the mid-90s and can be revved up to 97 mph, the twenty-one year old offers a lot of promise and potential.
Familia excelled in his six starts in Advanced A-ball and was worthy of the promotion. In 36.1 innings, he allowed just six earned runs (a 1.49 ERA) on 21 hits and eight walks while punching out 36 batters. Considering he walked 5.5 batters per nine innings at St. Lucie in 2010, the 2.0 BB/9 to start off the year was an impressive improvement.
Initially, Familia seemed unfazed, yielding just one earned run on five hits and no walks in seven innings while fanning six. His next start was great as well, with Familia tossing six scoreless innings and allowing three hits and three walks with six more strikeouts. After that, however, Familia hit a bit of a rough patch.
In his next four outings, Familia pitched a total of 19 innings (not lasting longer than five innings in each start), surrendering 15 runs (only 10 were earned though) on 22 hits and 13 walks with 18 strikeouts. According to one scout, Familia began to work on his slider more during games, which could explain his struggles in these four starts. However, like he did earlier this season, Familia bounced back.
His most recent two starts are more reminiscent of his earlier dominance. Facing Trenton on June 12th, Familia went six and two-third innings, allowing four earned runs on six hits and one walk while striking out eleven. In his next outing, he got Trenton again and was just as impressive, punching out ten batters in six innings while allowing just two earned runs on six hits and three walks. Familia now has a 3.35 ERA at Binghamton while allowing 42 hits and 20 walks in 45.2 innings (1.358 WHIP) with 51 strikeouts. Overall in 2011, the righty is the owner of a 2.52 ERA, 1.110 WHIP, 9.5 K/9 and 3.11 K/BB (and perhaps surprisingly ,a 1-3 record).
The key for Familia as he continues to climb the ladder will be his control. If he really has been working to improve his slider, as the scout suggested, that would be a reasonable excuse for his wildness during that four game stretch, since he would presumably trying to gain command of the breaking pitch. A major positive though is his strikeout rate, which has so far improved since Familia made the leap to Double A. Still, what continues to impress me maybe the most about the young righty is his ability to rebound from tough outings and show marked improvement, a trait which will serve him well should Familia continue to advance through the farm system.
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