Almost immediately after I wrote about some of the Mets pitching prospects, disaster struck. Almost everyone who I mentioned got hit hard in his next outing followed by Jenrry Mejia tearing his MCL. I began to think I had cursed this group of young arms when thing startled to settle down. As Robert Bonanni wrote, Matt Harvey bounced back from his first rough outing. Yesterday, Jeurys Familia did the same.
After surrendering four earned runs on seven hits and one walk last week against Bradenton, Familia drew another start against the Marauders yesterday and fared much better. In six and two-third innings, the young righty from the Dominican Republic allowed just one run on five hits, walking none and fanning six. The run scored in the first inning when Familia found himself in early trouble, facing runners on second and third with one out. However, he escaped by only yielding the one run after a sacrifice fly and a strikeout. He got some help from his defense in the bottom of the second when Matt den Dekker threw a runner out at the plate to keep the score the same. From there, Familia settled down nicely, retiring the next eleven consecutive batters. He left the game still trailing 1-0 and wound up taking the loss when Bradenton scored three runs off the bullpen in the eight and St. Lucie could only muster two in the ninth, as the Mets fell 4-2.
Still, the outing was encouraging for Familia, especially considering he was up against the same team who roughed him up in his prior start. On the season, Jeurys boasts an impressive 1.49 ERA and 0.798 WHIP in 36.1 innings pitched while punching out 36 batters (a K/9 of 8.9). Opposing hitters are batting a mere .171 against him. Even more impressive is his low walk rate, something that has plagued him in year’s past. Last season at St. Lucie, Familia averaged 5.5 walks per nine innings. This year, he’s only issued eight free passes, a BB/9 of 2.0. The low walks total combined with all his strikeouts gives Familia an outstanding K/BB of 4.50.
If Familia continues to pitch this well in St. Lucie, it seems likely that he, along with Matt Harvey, will be promoted to double A Binghamton before too long, perhaps when the weather gets warmer around June. The Mets have a recent history of being aggressive with their prospects and pushing them to higher minor league levels at a young age, but since Harvey is 22 and pitched in college, and Familia has already had a full season at St. Lucie, promoting either one of them wouldn’t be rushing things. It’s possible one or both of these young arms could make their major league debut late in 2012 and be fighting for a rotation spot in spring training in 2013.