Rookie Review: Jeurys Familia, RHP, New York Mets
New York Mets pitching prospect Jeurys Familia made his first major league start last night, throwing four shutout innings against the Miami Marlins. He fanned three and gave up but a single hit, but he also walked six hitters, a perfect microcosm of Familia's profile as a prospect: terrific stuff, but wobbly command.
Familia is a 6-4, 230-pound right-handed hitter and thrower, born October 10, 1989 in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Signed in 2007, he posted a 2.79 ERA with a 38/13 K/BB ratio for the Gulf Coast League Mets in 2008. His velocity was average at that point, but he was already getting a lot of ground balls (2.00 GO/AO). I gave him a Grade C in my 2009 book and noted him as a guy to watch for further development.
The Mets jumped him past short-season ball in 2009 and gave him 23 starts at Low-A Savannah. He thrived, going 10-6, 2.69 with a 109/46 K/BB in 134 innings, with just 109 hits and a mere three homers allowed. His velocity picked up into the low-90s and he made progress with his slider, but scouts panned his changeup and didn't like his mechanics. I liked his statistical profile and his arm strength, and gave him a Grade B- entering 2010 with a "sleeper alert" tag.
Familia didn't live up to my hopes in 2010, going backwards with his control at High-A St. Lucie, posting a 5.58 ERA with a 137/74 K/BB in 121 innings with 117 hits allowed. His velocity continued to increase, into the mid-to-upper-90s, but he struggled with his mechanics. Many scouts now saw him as a future reliever. Although I lowered his rating to a Grade C+ in the 2011 book, I pointed out his youth and arm strength, and felt he could rebound.
He did, posting a 1.49 ERA with a 36/8 K/BB in 36 innings for St. Lucie to open '11, then a 3.49 ERA with a 96/35 K/BB in 88 innings for Double-A Binghamton. He made some mechanical improvements that enhanced his command, while still buzzing hitters with his mid-90s sinker, slider, and occasional changeups. He ranked as a Grade B for me entering this year.
Familia made 28 starts this season for Triple-A Buffalo, posting a 4.73 ERA with a 128/73 K/BB in 137 innings, with 145 hits. So far in the majors, he's thrown 12 innings with 10 hits allowed, with a 10/9 K/BB.
No rocket science here: his control problems obviously hold him back. But the stuff is quite impressive: check out the unholy movement on the fastball that he threw to Carlos Lee last night. That slider looks pretty sharp, too.
Familia is not as good as Matt Harvey or as complete a pitcher as Zack Wheeler, but he's talented. Perhaps he does wind up in relief. He needs a better changeup to go with the fastball and slider if he wants to avoid the bullpen, but overall I still like his upside.