Season In Review: Jeurys Familia


Rising Apple’s Season In Review continues with pitching prospect, Jeurys Familia.

The Mets signed Jeurys Familia in 2007 as an eighteen year old amateur free agent.  The young right hand pitcher hails out of the Dominican Republic.  On October 10th, he enjoyed his twenty third birthday.

Jeurys Familia made his Mets professional debut in the 2008 Gulf Coast Rookie League season.  He made a fine first impression in his initial campaign.  In eleven starts, he pitched 51.2 innings, which averaged out to 4.65 innings per start.  He posted a 2-2 record, finished with a 2.79 earned run average, and struck out thirty eight batters.  In five seasons as a minor league pro, his 1.142 WHiP in 2008 still stands as his professional best.  He allowed less hits (46/51.2) than innings pitched and limited the opposition to thirteen bases on balls.

Oct 1, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; New York Mets starting pitcher Jeurys Familia (27) prepares to deliver a pitch against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

For the 2009 season, the organization placed Familia with the (A)-Savanna Sand Gnats.  In twenty three starts and twenty four appearances, he posted a 10-6 record and lowered his earned run average from the prior season down to a 2.69 mark.  In 134 innings pitched he surrendered 109 hits, which lowered his hits allowed per nine innings average from eight hits in 2008, to a 7.3 mark.  With 109 strikeouts, he also upped his strikeout ratio from 6.6 to 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings pitched.  His walks allowed however increased by almost a full point.  He allowed forty six walks and ended with a 1.157 WHiP.

By most indications, Jeurys Familia was progressing nicely over his first two seasons.  He then spent the 2010 season with the (A)-St. Lucie Mets where he made twenty four starts and posted a 6-9 record.  For the first time, his (137) strikeouts exceeded his (121) innings pitched.  He set his professional high with a 10.2 strikeouts per nine average.  He also continued to allow less hits (117) than innings pitched.  However Familia’s ERA, WHiP, and walks issued escalated dramatically.  He walked seventy four batters for a mark of 5.5 batters per nine innings.  His WHiP increased in kind to reflect a 1.579 mark.  Lastly, he finished the season with a 5.58 earned run average.

He started the 2011 season with St. Lucie.  After six starts Jeurys Familia was promoted to (AA)-Binghampton Mets.  He made seventeen starts for the B-Mets.  In total, he posted a 5-5 record and lowered his ERA back down to a 2.90 mark.  In twenty three total starts, he pitched 124 innings.  His numbers remained promising.  He allowed less hits (106) than frames pitched and brought his walks (43) down from the year prior.

He was promoted again for a full season at (AAA)-Buffalo.  Similar to his 2010 campaign, his 2012 season with the Bisons (now an affiliate of Toronto) was a reversal of progress.  He made twenty eight starts which marked his highest total as a pro so far, and finished with a 9-9 record.  However, all his primary indicators reflected downturns.  His earned run average (4.73) climbed above four again.  He gave up more hits (145/137) than innings pitched.  His 9.5 hits allowed per nine innings were his new minor league high.  And his walks escalated to seventy three, which gave him a 4.8 walks per nine inning average.  It goes without saying then, Familia also established a new high mark with a 1.591 WHiP.  He struck out 128 batters.  But his 8.4 K’s per nine innings were his lowest rate since his 2009 season.

That’s your background file on Jeurys Familia.

HOW JEURYS FAMILIA DID ON THE MOUND:  Familia pitched in 110 minor league games.  He appeared once in relief, and pitched in 109 games as the starter.  But the Mets promoted him to the big club during September call-ups to help out in the bullpen.

The youngster made his MLB debut for the Mets on September 4th against the Cardinals in St. Louis.  He pitched one inning in relief, allowed a hit, and struck out one.  The Mets allowed him to make one start against the Miami Marlins on October 1st.  He pitched four innings, surrendered no runs, allowed one hit, and struck out three.  Of concern for most was Familia issuing six walks.

In all, Jeurys Familia made eight appearances and managed 12.1 innings.  He earned no decisions, posted a 5.84 earned run average, and struck out ten batters.  He walked an unsettling nine batters however, and allowed ten hits.

AREAS TO IMPROVE UPON:  Quite obviously, Jeurys Familia has a control issue.  Over his five year minor league career, he has averaged 3.9 walks per nine innings pitched.  While not catastrophic for a starting pitcher per se, a high issuance of walks will get every reliever into trouble.  In more general speak, as a twenty three year old, he just needs to continue listening to his coaches and apply himself.  His body of work still suggests this man can excel at the major league level.

He works with a four pitch repertoire.  Jeurys’ fastball now hums in the mid-ninety mph range.  His next best pitch is an item for debate.  Some say it is his sinker.  Some say it is his slider.  Depending on the day, only one is right.  When his slider is on his sinker is not, and vice versa.  Don’t get me wrong.  Both his slider and his sinker are high quality pitches.  He is just somewhat inconsistent when it comes to offering both to opposing batters.

Without a doubt however, the worst pitch in his arsenal would be his change-up.  Without a quality change-up, hitters are not overly concerned with Familia varying speeds against them.  Despite a weak change-up, Familia has done a fine job not surrendering the long ball.  In 567.2 minor league innings pitched, he has allowed all of thirty one home runs.  That’s an average of 0.5 long balls surrendered per nine innings pitched.  It is a solid indication, and perhaps testament his sinker, slider, and fastball are indeed good enough to succeed at the major league level.  The swingable strike theory of pitching seems to work well with his stuff.

PROJECTED ROLE IN 2013:  Although he has been groomed in the minor leagues to be a starting pitcher, the Mets have a glaring need in the bullpen.  Jeurys Familia’s immediate future looks to be headed there.  Besides that, the starting rotation features five to seven regulars and potentials before Jeurys Familia’s name gets mentioned.

I’d say his role in 2013 is still unclear.  Much depends on how aggressively GM Sandy Alderson seeks to rebuild the bullpen from outside the organization.  Frank Francisco and Bobby Parnell will be returning.  Beyond them, nothing about the bullpen is certain.  Familia and Jenrry Mejia could conceivably join Parnell and Francisco to form a potentially strong quartet.  Sandy Alderson can then be left to focus solely on acquiring left-handed relief help.

I however believe Jeurys Familia would be best served starting the season at (AAA)-Las Vegas next season.  Let him work out some of his control issues, and tinker with his change-up there.  Once June, September, or even 2014 rolls around, the Mets can potentially have yet another refined hurler on their hands.

Contract status and his chances of being traded:  With just eight major league games under his belt, he has no contract status.  He belongs to the Mets.  Jeurys Familia will be earning the major league minimum for a few years until he is arbitration eligible.

As a starting pitcher, I’d say his chances of being traded are rather high.  Matt Harvey and Zach Wheeler are projected to start ahead of him.  So at the most, that places Familia eighth on the Mets depth chart.  If he is destined for the bullpen, the Mets still need left handed pitching.  So the probability Jeurys Familia gets traded will remain high throughout the winter and through Spring Training.  A receiving ball club will acquire a top quality prospect whom they will have control over for the next five years.  If packaged with other players, Familia’s value can greatly contribute to hauling in a nice catch for the Mets in a trade.

If retained, Jeurys Familia is already held by most fans in fairly high regard.  Assuming he develops along his present course, he potentially has much to offer the Mets, and on many levels, provides the club with valuable options moving forward.