I still need to be convinced they’re not real brothers. Pitchers Jenrry Mejia and Jeurys Familia are like the fraternal twins of the Mets organization. They were both born in October of 1989, in the Dominican Republic, a mere day a part, and grew up to measure at least six feet in height, and exceed 200 pounds in weight.
They also both throw right-handed, and in 2007, at age 18, Mejia and Familia signed with the Mets as amateur free agents.
Jul 28, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets relief pitcher Jenrry Mejia (58) in the dugout before the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports
Although he is technically the younger of the two, Jenrry Mejia managed to climb the mound first. In 2007, he made 14 appearances in the Dominican summer league. He and Familia weren’t united until 2008, if only briefly, when both were assigned to the Gulf Coast League Mets. But after just three appearances, Jenrry Mejia was moved up to Brooklyn, while Jeurys Familia finished out the 2008 campaign (his first) in the GCL.
The 2009 season followed a similar pattern. Mejia started the year with the PSL Mets, and half way through was promoted to Binghamton. Jeurys Familia was assigned to Savannah, where he completed a full season.
In 2010, Jenrry Mejia made his MLB debut a full two years before Familia would. Although the two were both being groomed as starting pitchers, Mejia appeared in 33 games for the Mets, mostly in relief. Meanwhile, Jeurys Familia completed the 2010 season in Port St. Lucie, where he battled control issues.
Unfortunately, Jenrry Mejia’s rapid rise through the system came to a screeching halt in 2011, when his pitching elbow gave, and required Tommy John surgery. Jeurys Familia rebounded after posting a 5.58 ERA in 2010, with a fine campaign split between PSL and Binghamton.
In 2012, both finally joined forces again, this time, for a substantially longer period of time, as each exceeded 25 appearances for the AAA-Buffalo Bisons. By this time, there was little doubt Mejia was being transitioned into a relief pitcher. In 26 appearances, he only made 10 starts. Familia however, made 28 starts for the Bisons. But, by the next season, Familia was being transitioned into the bullpen as well.
In 2013, the two came to share yet one more thing in common, when Jeurys Familia suffered through his own arm problems. In fact, both pitchers needed minor surgery to clean out bone spurs from their elbows.
It has been seven years since they first signed with the Mets. Since then, when one got mentioned, the other’s name was sure to follow. As such, they have been anticipated by Mets fans as a pair, for quite some time now. Before guys like Matt Harvey, Zack Wheeler, Noah Syndergaard, and Rafael Montero entered the general picture, all eyes used to be fixed on Jenrry Majia and Jeurys Familia.
However, despite Familia making his MLB debut in 2012, the last two seasons have been hit or miss for the two – mostly miss. In 2013, Mejia only made 6 appearances in the minors, and just 5 appearances for the Mets. Familia only appeared in 8 minor league games, and 9 for the Mets.
Entering the 2014 season, their time in Flushing seems to have finally arrived. Time, by the way, also is something that is still on their side, as they will pitch the 2014 season as twenty-four year olds.
Unless Jenrry Mejia wins the fifth starting pitcher spot, both finally seemed poised to pitch out of the Mets bullpen this season. Otherwise, you might say that today, they stand on equal ground together.
They are the only two pitchers from the Mets 2008 Gulf Coast team still left in the system. Ironic? Maybe.