The New York Mets player development department made its first significant move last week. New York promoted righthander Jeurys Familia from Class A St. Lucie to Class AA Binghamton.
Familia, just 21, dominated in the Florida State League, going 1-1 with a 1.49 ERA. He yielded just 21 hits and eight walks with 36 strikeouts in 36 1/3 innings, teaming with 2010 first-rounder Matt Harvey for a solid 1-2 punch.
The righthander was superb Sunday against Yankees affiliate Trenton in the Eastern League, allowing three hits and three walks over seven scoreless innings with six strikeouts. His only trouble came in the third when he loaded the bases with no outs but got a double play and a popout to escape.
Familia didn’t get a decision, since the bullpen couldn’t hold the 2-0 lead, allowing three ninth-inning runs in the loss.
In his Class AA debut last Tuesday against New Britain, Familia allowed two runs – one earned – and five hits with no walks and six strikeouts in another no-decision for the B-Mets, who have struggled all season to score runs.
“I didn’t feel pressure, I felt all right,” Familia told the Binghamton Press after his AA debut. “I got excited when I got on the mound. I tried to control my emotions and throw strikes.”
His fastball touched 96 and his 80 mph changeup fooled several hitters.
“Everything was there for him tonight,” B-Mets manager Wally Backman said. “His velocity was good. He threw some real good changeups. He threw a few too many breaking balls at times, but I like the mound presence that he showed as a young kid.
“I think this kid is a big leaguer. He’s young. He’s still got to learn, but if he stays healthy and does some of the things he showed here tonight, he’s going to be a pretty good pitcher one day.”
With Jenrry Mejia out for the season with elbow surgery, Familia now must be considered the top pitching prospect closest to the major leagues. He was 6-9, 5.58 ERA for St. Lucie last season so his start there in 2011 needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but he’s cut his 5.50 BB/9 IP ratio down to 1.97.
With the ability to hit the mid-90s and above with his heater and improved command on a slider that hitters chase out of the zone, the Dominican is averaging nearly a strikeout per inning after fanning 10.2/9 IP last season, and he has yielded just one home run.
Harvey, his running mate in the FSL, has cooled off after a great start, now at 5-2 with a 2.61 ERA after not yielding an earned run in his first four starts. However, the 22-year-old tossed five scoreless innings Sunday in a win at Brevard County and should re-join Familia in the near future.
Low Class A Savannah has won three straight, six of seven and eight of 10 to improve to 18-18 and a first place division tie in the South Atlantic League. Darrell Cecilliani went 5-for-5 in a Saturday night win and Cory Vaughn has pushed his average to .344 and on-base percentage to .477 by hitting .471/.617/.559 in his last 10 contests. Shortstop Robbie Shileds, 23, who projects as a utility player at the big league level, had eight hits over a three-game span to lift his average to .264 with 16 RBI and six steals in 33 games.
Young 19-year-old Aderlin Rodriguez, perhaps the top power prospect in the organization, is manning the hot corner at Savannah, and another 19-year-old, Jefry Marte, is more than holding his own in the pitcher-friendly advanced Class A Florida State League.
Despite batting .189 in his last 10 games, Marte is batting .285/.365/.469 with five homers and 21 RBI in 35 games for St. Lucie. The righthanded hitter has 15 walks, 29 strikeouts and four steals among his 130 at-bats.
Marte hit .264/.333/.401 in 84 games in a repeat season at Savannah last season with six homers and 44 RBI in 82 games, beginning and finishing the season on the DL with a hamstring injury.
The 6-1, 195-pounder is not overly athletic or a fast runner and is still a work in progress defensively. He has fielded sub-.900 in each of his first thee seasons, including a minor league-leading 49 errors in 2009. He’s showed some improvement this season with seven errors in 34 games for a .927 fielding percentage.
New York liked the Dominican as a teenager, signing him in 2007 at age 16 for a half million dollars
AROUND THE MINORS: Allan Dykstra, a former first-round pick of the San Diego Padres acquired this winter in a minor league trade, hit a two-run homer in the ninth Saturday to provide Binghamton a 3-2 win over Trenton. The 23-year-old first baseman is batting .287/.418/.472 with three homers and nine RBI in 24 games. … RHP Pedro Beato, on injury rehab assignment, allowed two hits and no runs in 1 1/3 innings Sunday for Buffalo, getting credited with a win when newly-acquired 28-year-old Bubba Bell delivered a two-run single in the ninth to beat Louisville. … New York may have to give a look at 25-year-old Chris Schwinden, who is 2-1 with a 2.20 ERA in six starts for Buffalo after starting the season at Binghamton. He’s allowed 21 hits and 12 walks with 31 strikeouts in 32 2/3 frames. He was a 22nd-round draft pick in 2008 and could be the next Pat Misch or Dillon Gee.