The New York Mets may be starting to turn it around, but the St. Lucie Mets in the high Class-A Florida State League have been on fire all season. The Mets are a minor league-best 15-2 and their top two starters, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia, have been getting most of the accolades.
The St. Luice Mets boast a league-leading 2.22 ERA — more than half a run better than the Daytona Cubs, who rank second. St. Lucie has surrendered only two homers over 154 innings and its starters are a combined 8-0.
“From top to bottom, this is one of the best pitching staffs I have worked with,” St. Lucie pitching coach Phil Regan told Milb.com. “We have good right-handed pitching, our starters have been doing very well and the bullpen has been great.
Harvey is 4-0 with a 0.00 ERA in his first four starts, while Familia, who follows Harvey in the Mets rotation, is 1-0 with a 0.35 ERA in four starts.
Harvey threw six scoreless frames Friday in a 7-2 road victory over Charlotte and has yielded one unearned run and 14 hits in 22 innings with eight walks and 27 strikeouts.
The 21-year-old Familia followed Saturday by scattering three hits while striking out eight over seven innings in a 7-0 blanking of the Jupiter Hammerheads. The right-hander has allowed just nine hits and seven walks with 25 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings.
He worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the first inning, set the Hammerheads down in order three times and retired 14 of the final 15 batters he faced.
Familia allowed just one hit in his first two outings.
“Familia is a young pitcher, but he is throwing the ball very well,” Regan said. “He has very good poise on the mound, he has a good fastball and breaking ball and he commands all of his pitches well.
“I don’t put ceilings on players, but he’s improving with every start and he’s making progress in everything he’s doing.”
Last year at the same level, Familia had a 5.58 ERA and a 1.579 WHIP in 121 IP. Additionally, his BB/9 of 5.50 was more than twice his current rate (2.45).
Meanwhile the Mets also have some potent hitters, as two young prospects are hitting over .300 in the pitcher-friendly league.
Twenty-three–year-old center fielder Matt den Dekker is batting .323/.362/.492 and 19-year-old third baseman Jefry Marte is at .305/.391/.492 and leads the team with three home runs, including two Thursday against Charlotte.
Den Dekker has seven doubles and two triples and had four multiple-hit games from April 18-21 (10-for19). Marte has 10 RBI in his last 10 games and is second on the club with 11 RBI.
Jenrry Mejia has finally fallen back to earth after two losses this past week. The 21-year-old allowed three runs – two earned – and three hits with four walks and six strikeouts over 5 2/3 innings of a loss against Rochester on Tuesday and then was charged with five runs on four hits with two walks and three strikeouts over six frames Sunday in a loss to Lehigh Valley.
On Sunday, Mejia was picked off and committed his third error of the season – his second botched pickoff attempt. He also allowed a leadoff walk in the third to the No. 8 hitter, which led to a four-run inning, three scoring on a home run by Jeff Larish, the first yielded this season.
“He’s going to grow from this experience,” Buffalo manager Tim Teufel said. “With that eighth hitter up and the pitcher coming up, you don’t want to walk that guy and have the 1-2-3 guys come up and start everything over again.
“Of course, the three-run homer, that ball was smoked to center field.”
After allowing no runs, seven hits and five walks over 12 2/3 innings in his first two starts, Mejia is now 1-2 with a 2.59 ERA.
INTRODUCING Jason Pridie: Pridie is a 27-year-old former second-round pick of the Tampa Bay Rays back in 2002.
Over 10 minor league seasons he’s hit .275/.319/.422 with 82 home runs. He was clocked from home-to-first in the 4.0-4.1 ranges in his earlier years, is known for his outstanding baseball instincts, solid play in the outfield and strong arm. He was compared to Johnny Damon when he entered pro ball and led all short-season players with 116 hits in 2002.
However, the left-handed hitter hasn’t learned the strike zone, evidenced by his 231/772 BB/SO ratio over 3,748 minor league at-bats, but does run well. He has 163 career steals, has reached 20 steals four times, and 70 triples, including 16 in 2008 at Class AAA Rochester.
Pridie was a center fielder coming up through the Rays system and then with the Twins from 2008-09. He is in his second season with the Mets.
Pridie hit .186 (11-59) with three home runs and six RBI in 14 games for Buffalo. Prior to this season, Pridie was 0-for-4 in 11 major-league games with Minnesota in 2008-09.
AROUND THE MINORS: Buffalo center fielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis has hit in an International League-best 14 straight games, raising his average to .344. He has eight doubles, two homers, four RBI and a 1.026 OPS. He has reached base in all 18 games. … A trip to Class AAA hasn’t help Lucas Duda, who is batting .159 (7-of-44) with 12 strikeouts. … 26-year-old Joshua Satin, who is keeping second base warm for Reese Havens at Class AA Binghamton, has gone 14-for-29 with four doubles, two homers and five RBI in his last eight games to push his average to .354/.436/.563. Satin hit .311 with 39 doubles, 12 homers and 64 RBI with a .866 OPS combined between St. Lucie and Binghamton last season. … After starting 3-for-35, 19-year-old low Class-A Savannah 3B Aderlin Rodriguez, considered to have the most power in the organization, has gone 8-for-26 and slugged his first home run on Saturday.