HYPE files: Jeurys Familia

Why the hype?

Jeurys Familia, SP: Before the season started, Familia was considered one of the top three prospects in the Mets minor league systems. Coming into the season, some people ranked him higher than Matt Harvey and/or Zack Wheeler. As the season comes to an end, he has become a polarizing prospect. With a 96 MPH fastball and a biting slider, no one can argue his stuff is not top notch, but stuff is not as important as results. Those who ranked Familia higher than Harvey and Wheeler probably want a redo because one has to wonder if he is even a Top 5 prospect.

Like the expression goes, hindsight is 20/20. Those who ranked Familia as high as they did had reason to. He is only 22 years old and he had a lot of success last year in A and AA ball last year. Between both levels last year, Familia had a 2.90 ERA with 132 Ks and 43 BBs. Many saw him on the same level as Harvey as well because like Harvey all he had to work on in AAA was his command and changeup.

Unfortunately for Mets fans neither saw any improvement this year. In fact, some would say Familia has regressed with both his command and changeup. His stats this year are not all that impressive. In 24 games started (GS) and 112 innings pitched (IP), Familia has a 4.98 ERA, 100 Ks, and 66 BBs. His B/9 (walks per nine innings) is a staggering 5.3 while his K/9 (strikeouts per nine innings) has regressed to 8.0. Compare that to his 2011 BB/9 of 3.6 and K/9 of 9.9 and one can quickly begin to see how much Familia has truly regressed this year.

Familia has a career 4.0 BB/9 in his five year minor league career, so one has to begin to wonder if this is just how he will always be. With his wild and inconsistent command, it is not hard to imagine a pitcher in the same vain as Victor Zambrano. Zambrano had great stuff, but could never harness it enough before he got injured. Although Familia is only 22 years old, he is regressed so much this year it is hard to see him ever straightening his command out. Not only does he need to work on his changeup, but his fastball and slider are still not completely under control. Familia still has ways to go as a starting pitcher.

So is all lost for Familia? Not completely; the stuff is still there. Familia has an electric arm that should be able to find a role somewhere in the majors. Worst case scenario, Familia doesn’t cut it as a starter and can’t adjust to coming out of the bullpen. The best case scenario is he becomes a dominant closer which is not so far off. If he can learn how to command his fastball and slider for an inning at a time it’s possible. However, not everyone has the make up to handle closing out the game. That’s why this Mets fan sees a player in the middle of the worst and best case scenarios. Familia will find himself in a 7th or 8th inning role as a dominant reliever for years to come.

Those of you who dream of a top of the rotation starter, I ask: Why the hype?

Jeurys Familia may prove to be a second-half star

Readers of my Met’s Minors column may have grown accustomed to me ignoring players who might be struggling in a given week.  For this reason you have heard a lot about: Matt Harvey, Wilmer Flores, Zack Wheeler, Travis Taijeron and Aderlin Rodriguez, but less about others.  Well I tend to go by the doctrine of, “If I don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

So it was with Jeurys Familia, Reese Havens, Michael Fulmer and Brandon Nimmo.  The four players all didn’t get their seasons started on the right foot.  A wise and venerable man once told me, “There is a reason they play a whole season.”  That has proven to be sage advice time and time again.  In this case… perhaps it means that I might have been counting a few players out too quickly.

Jeurys Familia: On the year, Jeurys Familia has: a 7 and 5 record and a 4.33 ERA.  In 95.2 innings he’s struck out a respectable 87 but also walked a regrettable 56.  These stats should not have anyone too excited.  Yet… since July 6th, Jeurys Familia has been a different pitcher entirely.

In the three games since July 6th, he’s pitched a total of 20.2 innings.  In that span he’s struck out 20 and only walked 4.  That is much more like the Familia who blew through two levels of the minors in 2011.  In the three most recent games his ERA has been a measly 0.87 and his WHIP a phenomenal 0.825.  What does this mean?

Well… hopefully it means that a flaw in Familia’s game has been discovered and corrected.  Hopefully it means that Familia is still on track to be a front-line starter.  What does it ACTUALLY mean?  He’s pitched three good games.  It’s not enough to get excited, but it is enough to have hope.

Reese Havens: Enough already, he’s always hurt and he’s done.  The Mets top 2B prospect is Wilmer Flores… MOVE ON!  Hold the phone.  The fans may have been a little over-eager to dump poor Reese and his sweeter than sugar swing from their radar.

He’s played 69 games this season and seems to be healthy… FINGERS CROSSED.  What bugs people is that trough those games he’s hit .231.  Look at the splits:

Before the All-Star Break: .217/.351/.353

After the All-Star Break: .333/.419/.630

Still not convinced?  Well… 7 games is hardly a sampling so how about we look at how his May Slashes: .127/.286/.177 compare to his June: .269/.364/.462 and July: .286/.412/.482.

Why do I think there are big things on the horizon?  Well… despite his poor start and .231 yearly batting average, Reese has still managed to hold a .743 OPS for the year.  That’s not too shabby.

Michael Fulmer: He’s a different case than the others.  Fulmer hasn’t been bad in 2012.  He’s got a 2.67 ERA… how bad could he have been?  Let’s say instead that his stock with me was hurt based on some questionable starts and some less than spotless peripherals.  81 innings pitched and only 72 strikeouts doesn’t sound to me like the mid-rotation pitcher people tell me he’ll become.  I mean… especially in pitcher friendly Savannah.  More troubling are the 30 walks and barely higher than 5 innings per start.

Word on the street is that Fulmer has turned a corner in development and his last start might prove it.  He threw 6 innings of 4 hit, 2 walk baseball while striking out 7.  THAT, is impressive to me.  He’s going to need to induce more ground balls in the future, but I think he’s still got the track for mid-rotation and perhaps I’ll be a little kinder in the weekly minor posts.

Brandon Nimmo: In June… Brandon Nimmo showed us that he could take a walk.  He walked 13 times and struck out only 10.  When he hit (he only had 8) it usually went for extra bases (3) but he didn’t look like a first round talent early on.  In July… Brandon Nimmo showed us he DOES have a bat.  He’s hit .265 in the month with 6 doubles 1 triple and 1 HR.  He’s still not tearing the cover off the ball but he’s making contact.  I’m not in the least disturbed that in July he has more K’s than B’s… HE SHOULD HAVE MORE K’s THAN B’s!!!  Do I think Brandon Nimmo is on a sweet tear?  YES!  He’s got 5 of his July extra base hits in the past 6 games.  He’s on track to get tortured for a season in Savannah… that’s what we wanted.

Don’t take my word for it, I’ve asked around…

Mack Ade, Mets Minor League Maven: I have always considered this season a big ‘upswing’ because I never expected the team to compete for even a wild card. There are raves about Nimmo, both with a bat in his hand and a controlled smile on his face. Fulmer is so ready for St. Lucie (he’s 19!!!) and Familia still needs some time to command the zone before going out next to chop shops.

 

Mets Minors: End of season wrap-up

The regular season for Mets minor leaguers ended on Labor Day and the Class A St. Lucie Mets were eliminated in the championship series of the Florida State League playoffs and Savannah is one win away from a low Class A title in the South Atlantic League. With the offseason quickly approaching, now is a good time to take a snap shot of the prospects the Mets will be counting on in coming seasons.

The top storyline in the Mets farm system this season has to be Matt Harvey, the 2010 first-rounder who got off to a great start at St. Lucie and ended the season at Class AA Binghamton. He looks on pace to join the Mets late next season and perhaps the rotation full-time by 2013.

Easily the biggest surprise in the organization is 23-year-old shortstop Jordany Valdespin, who hit a combined .294/.333/.460 at Class AA and AAA with 32 doubles, three triples, 17 homers and 37 stolen bases. While the lefthanded hitter played shortstop this season, making 32 errors, he has a lot of experience at second base and could fill the long-lasting void at that position.

However, no matter how pleased the front office could be over Harvey and Valdespin, frustrations must continue to grow over its top pitching and hitting prospect entering the season. The elbow injury suffered by Jenrry Mejia was a huge blow to the organization, stunting the growth of the 21-year-old flamethrower for a second straight season. Now, the Dominican’s estimated return to Citi Park is probably 2013. Top hitting prospect Wilmer Flores had a baffling season at St. Lucie, hitting just .269/.309/.380 – showing no significant improvement over his half season there in ‘10.

But back to the positive – for now.

Harvey wasn’t the only minor leaguer to live up to expectations. Zack Wheeler, acquired from the Giants in the Carlos Beltran deal, looked impressive in the FSL with a mid-90s fastball and improved command, albeit a short sample size. Righthander Jeurys Familia, another 21-year-old with a plus arm and stuff, quickly passed his re-test at St. Lucie and averaged over a strikeout per frame at Binghamton, splitting eight decisions with a 3.49 ERA in 17 starts.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Reese Havens and Zach Lutz, three upper-level hitting talents, produced good results but battled injuries in 2011 – nothing new for Havens and Lutz.

Nieuwenhuis was well on his way to a second-half callup when he went down with a shoulder injury two months into the season. The 23-year-old hit .298/.403/.505 at Class AAA Buffalo. Havens finished strong at Binghamton, batting .289/372/.455, and even better, stayed healthy the second half of the season. Lutz continued to crush the ball, hitting .295/.380/.500 at Buffalo, and could be an option at either infield corner spot down the road.

Among pitching surprises, Class AAA hurlers Josh Stinson, 23 and Chris Schwinden, 24, neither of whom possess the stuff to be prime prospects, had solid seasons, and now the Mets hope they’ve found another Dillon Gee.

Lower down the ladder, lefthander Darin Gorski had a breakout season at St. Lucie, joining the rotation a month in and ending as the staff ace. He was the FSL’s Pitcher of the Year after going 11-3 with a 2.08 ERA. Greg Peavey pitched well at two Class A spots and Armando Rodriguez fanned 74 batters in 75 innings at St. Luice. Lefthanded closer Josh Edgin, who possesses a 92-95-plus mph heater and a good slider, dominated at both Class A stops, posting 27 saves, a WHIP just over 1 and 76 strikeouts in 66 frames.

At Savannah, 23-year-old Taylor Whittenton rode a 1.63 ERA in 12 starts after the All-Star break to a South Atlantic League ERA title. The righthander posted a 2.49 ERA, finished 5-5 in 26 games, including 22 starts, and parlayed his repeat season into an Arizona Fall League invite. He’ll be joined there by another marginal prospect, Collin McHugh, who went 7-0, 1.45 ERA in 10 games after the break at Binghamton.

Among surprising position players was center fielder Matt den Dekker, who continued to impress defensively, and although he struck out 156 times, the 23-year-old showed power with 32 doubles, 11 triples and 17 homers to go along with 24 steals. He hit just .265 between Class A and AA but posted a .797 OPS, and more importantly, demonstrated to the brass that he’s more than just a defensive stalwart.

Twenty-two year-old outfielder Juan Lagares made the organization take note when he hit .349 at Class A and AA. And former Padres first-rounder Allan Dykstra hit .267/.389/.474 with a Binghamton-team best 19 homers after joining the organization in March.

At the Class A level, St. Lucie third baseman Jefry Marte hit .248 and played in the Futures Game but slumped badly after a hot start. Aderlin Rodriguez hit 17 homers as a 19-year-old third baseman in the SAL but hit just .221 with a .265 on-base percentage. Nineteen-year-old catcher Gilbert Gomez showed improved hitting skills to go with his plus defensive skills at a position the Mets sorely lack quality prospects. Short-season Class A shortstop Daniel Muno will get some attention after batting .355/.466/.514 at Brooklyn.

Mejia and Flores weren’t the only disappointments.

Class AAA outfielder Fernando Martinez had another injury-plagued, underwhelming season and toolsy St. Lucie outfielder Cesar Puello, much like Flores, failed to break out. The 20-year-old hit .259 with a .710 OPS and 19 steals. Outfielder Cory Vaughn, 22, got off to blazing starts at both Savannah and St. Lucie but slumped tremendously at both, finishing a combined .255/.362/.402 with 13 homers. Shortstop Robbie Shields also played at both spots and did nothing to help his future utility infield prospect status.

Darrell Ceciliani, who won a New York Penn batting title a season ago, hit just .259 at Savannah, and catcher Blake Forsythe never heated up until blasting two homers in a playoff game. He batted .235 with nine bombs during the regular season. Brandon Nimmo, the first-round pick this summer who never played high school baseball in his Wyoming High School, went 8-for-38 with two homers in his rookie-level pro debut.

Soft-tossing lefthander Mark Cohoon, the Mets’ Pitcher f the Year in 2010, was 5-14, 5.29 ERA at AA and AAA, squashing any hopes Mets fans had of the 23-year-old booming onto the major league scene. Class AA hurlers Brad Holt and Robert Carson solidified themselves as non-prospects with extremely underwhelming seasons at Class AA. Juan Urbina, just 18 and considered the top teen arm, was 4-6 with a 5.95 ERA and a 1.571 WHIP in 12 starts at rookie-level Kingsport.

The offseason top-10
1. Matt Harvey
2. Zack Wheeler
3. Jordany Valdespin
4. Kirk Nieuwenhuis
5. Jeurys Familia
6. Jenrry Mejia
7. Cesar Puello
8. Reese Havens
9. Wilmer Flores
10. Brandon Nimmo

Mets Minors: Updated Top 10 list

With the Mets seemingly on the verge of a salary purge over the next few months and going to have to rely on the farm system more over the next several years, let’s look at an updated top-10 prospect list for the embattled organization.

The farm system lacks top-end talent and depth. Injuries this season have thwarted the progress of top pitcher Jenrry Mejia, infielders Zach Lutz and Reese Havens and outfielders Darrell Ceciliani and Fernando Martinez, who hasn’t been able to stay healthy or reach his potential. Havens has just returned from his latest injury, but he has to be considered more suspect than prospect at this point.

Slow starts have also impacted outfielders Cesar Puello and Lucas Duda, third baseman Aderlin Rodriguez and pitchers Brad Holt, Robert Carson and Kyle Allen. The Mets don’t have a legitimate catching prospect in the system, and, if Wilmer Flores moves from shortstop, the organization doesn’t have a legit everyday prospect in the middle of the infield, just several utility types: Havens, Justin Turner, Michael Fisher, Josh Satin, Jordany Valdespin and Robbie Shields.

On the positive side, Matt Harvey and Jeurys Familia have established themselves as top prospects, Kirk Nieuwenhuis has shown he’s an everyday player in the big leagues and youngster Cory Vaughn continues to hit. Class AA first baseman Allan Dykstra has been a pleasant surprise along with Class A center fielder Matt den Dekker.

“Sleeper” pitchers include AAA hurlers Chris Schwinden and recently-promoted Dale Thayer, high Class A lefthander Darin Gorski and low Class A righthander Gregory Peavey.

Below are the top-10 prospects in the Mets’ organization. Qualifications: Fewer than 100 plate appearances or 50 innings pitched in the major leagues prior to this season.

1. Matt Harvey

Other than two shaky outings, Harvey has been sensational in his pro debut season, and with the injury to Mejia, he has taken over the top spot on the mound.

The 2010 first-round pick from North Carolina is 6-2, with a 2.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in his first 10 starts. He’s allowed 45 hits and 18 walks in 54 innings with 62 strikeouts. The righthander has allowed no earned runs in seven of his 10 outings.

Harvey’s got the heat, command, pedigree, projectable body and offspeed stuff to be a staff ace.

2. Kirk Nieuwenhuis

There is very little doubt Nieuwenhuis will find himself playing regularly in New York once the financially strapped Mets start dumping salary.

Nieuwenhuis began the season with a 16-game hitting streak and has showed signs of making adjustments. The 23-year-old is batting .302/.407/.521 after a .225 average in 30 games for Buffalo last season. He has 15 doubles, two triples, six homers, 14 RBI, 29 walks and five steals in 47 games.

Nieuwenhuis is making strides against fellow lefthanders – .235 but 11 walks in 51 AB – but still needs to cut down on his strikeouts – 51 in 169 at-bats – and is batting just .182 with runners in scoring position. The center fielder is the only player in the International League to play in every game, and he is getting time in right field as well.

3. Wilmer Flores
Although Flores will probably outgrow shortstop, the 6-foot-3 righthanded batter is a potential hitting machine.

A recent slump has dropped his average to .267/.305/.381with 11 doubles, four homers and 35 RBI in the pitcher-friendly Class A Florida State League, but he has just 10 walks in 202 at-bats. But Flores won’t turn 20 until August and is playing against players 22 to 24 years of age.

His range is suspect at shortstop, so third base or a corner outfield spot probably awaits, but Flores has committed just six errors in 50 games.

4. Cory Vaughn

Vaughn is looking like the complete offensive package at low Class-A Savannah, batting .335/.466/.483 in 50 games with 14 doubles, four homers and 26 RBI.

The just turned 22-year-old also has 31 walks and 43 strikeouts in 176 at-bats, and he has stolen eight bases. Vaughn was a New York- Penn League All-Star last season and posted a .953 OPS so look for the righthanded hitter to move on to St. Lucie for the second half of the season.

5. Jenrry Mejia

Mejia unquestionably has the biggest upside of any Mets hurler with a “plus-plus” fastball that could either front a rotation or close out a game at the back. But the 21-year-old has just lost a second straight year of development when he blew out his elbow in late April after going 1-2 with a 2.86 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in five starts.

After undergoing Tommy John surgery, Mejia now faces a long rehabilitation stint – nine to 12 months. Prior to the season, Mets pitching coach Dan Warthen questioned whether Mejia and his all-out delivery would hold up as a starter.

6. Jeurys Familia

Along with Harvey, the 21-year-old Familia has been the best pitcher in the organization this season.

Familia is 0-1 with a 2.25 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in four starts for offensively-challenged Binghamton after going 1-1 with a 1.49 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP at St. Lucie.

The 6-foot-3 righthander with a mid-90s heater is no doubt the best one-win hurler in the minors, allowing 39 hits and 17 walks with 57 strikeouts in 60 1/3 innings. An off-the-charts improvement in command is the biggest reason Familia has been able to bounce back from 5.58 ERA at St. Lucie a season ago.

7. Pedro Beato

The 24-year-old has been a pleasant surprise in the middle of the bullpen.

Beato began the season without allowing an earned run in his first 12 outings covering 18 2/3 innings. Only Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler’s career-opening streak of 38 innings in 2008 is longer to start a career than Beato’s since 2000. The Brooklyn product yielded just nine hits, three walks and four unearned runs during that span with 11 strikeouts.

A bout with elbow tendinitis landed the Rule V pick from the Baltimore Orioles on the DL the first three weeks of May, and the righthander has been tagged for seven runs and eight hits in four innings over his last four outings.

The 6-6 Beato was a mediocre starter his first four years in the minors before switching to the pen, posting a 2.11 ERA and 16 saves at Class AA Bowie last season, walking 19 and striking out 50 in 60 innings. He doesn’t have overpowering heat and his offspeed pitches are still developing.

8. Matt Den Dekker

Already a major league-ready center fielder, Den Dekker has impressed the brass with a .315/.359/.502 out of the leadoff spot for St. Lucie.

The 23-year-old can run as his 16 doubles, eight triples and nine steals would indicate, and he’s added two homers and 27 RBI in 49 games. The 2010 fifth-rounder from the Univeristy of Florida is batting .328 against fellow lefthanders but will need to improve upon his 13/46 BB/SO ratio over 203 at-bats to play every day.

9. Dillon Gee

Does anybody believe in Dillon Gee yet?

Nobody did after the velocity-challenged righthander went 2-2 with a 2.18 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in five major league starts last season, but Gee is 5-0 with 3.83 ERA and 1.15 WHIP in 10 games – seven starts – for New York this season.

His lack of velocity and past results suggest the 25-year-old may be using smoke and mirrors, but its time Gee gets the props he deserves.

10. Cesar Puello

The 20-year-old is a “tools” player who is more potential than productivity at this point, but scouts can’t ignore his 6-3, 200-pound athletic frame, outstanding speed and power potential.

The Dominican is struggling against more-seasoned players in the Florida State League, batting .234/.288/.328 with two homers, 11 RBI and 10 steals in 46 games. His nine walks and 43 strikeouts in 192 at-bats will have to improve.

*****

Here is our preseason Top 10

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Mets Minors: Jeurys Familia bounces back

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.

Mets Minors: Jenrry Mejia mixes his pitches

Mets de-facto ace Mike Pelfrey is struggling, but the farm system continues to get excellent outings from its most highly regarded prospects.

Jenrry Mejia allowed no runs and three hits with three walks and five strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings in a win for Class AAA Buffalo at Scranton-Wilkes Barre last Wednesday.

The righthander was his worst enemy, committing two errors, one on a dropped throw while covering first base in the fifth and the other on a throwing error in the sixth.

After allowing just one runner to reach second in the first four innings, he got the final out of the fifth with runners on the corner and left the bases loaded in the sixth. Mejia departed with a runner on first and two out in the seventh.

“I was able to throw all of my pitches for a strike,” Mejia told MILB.com. “I was able to pitch ahead and change speeds. My changeup was my most consistent pitch in any count.”

The 21-year-old is 2-0 with no runs, seven hits and five walks allowed and 11 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings in his first two starts this season.

“I’ve been able to recognize the importance of being a pitcher and not a thrower,” Mejia said. “I’ve been able to mix the changeup with the curveball, and that’s been key. The key has been able to mix my pitches and throw them for a strikes.”

Mejia loved his time with the Mets last season but admitted he feels more comfortable as a starter and is waiting for his next chance to start in the big leagues.

“For sure, I’ve prepared myself and I can’t wait for it to happen,” he said. “But I want to be 100 percent ready for when that happens.”

Further down the chain, Matt Harvey finally allowed a run – albeit an unearned run – in his third start of the season Sunday at Class A St. Lucie. The 2010 first-rounder allowed just two hits with two walks and three strikeouts over five innings for a 4-1 win against Fort Myers.

The 6-4, 210 pound product of North Carolina followed five scoreless innings on Opening Day with six scoreless frames last Wednesday in a 3-1 win at Fort Myers. He allowed three hits and two walks with eight strikeouts. He retired the first 10 and got a double play to escape a bases-loaded jam in the fifth.

The righthander is 3-0, 0.00 ERA in his first three starts, yielding 10 hits and six walks with 20 strikeouts in 16 innings. He is one of three minor leaguers with three wins.

Harvey’s teammate Jeurys Familia has been just as impressive in two starts.

The 21-year-old allowed a run and a hit with two walks and six strikeouts Wednesday in a no-decision at Fort Myers. The right-hander walked the leadoff hitter in the first but retired him on a double play, and no other Miracle player reached until a leadoff walk in the sixth . A double and a ground out produced the run.

Familia opened his season allowing one hit over seven scoreless innings April 8 against West Palm Beach. He allowed just a third-inning single but the next batter hit into a double play. The 21-year-old struck out seven and faced the minimum during his first outing.

That pitching tandem has led St. Lucie to a 10-1 record, best in the minor leagues, including its last nine straight

INTRODUCING Sam Honeck: The first baseman at low Class A Savannah, Honeck is batting a South Atlantic League-best .500 (19-for-38) with a homer and 11 RBI in 10 games. He is an amazing 9-for-10 with runners in scoring position.

In his last two games against Greenville, Honeck went 6-of-9 with four doubles, a homer and six RBI.

Honeck played just six games last season due to a compound fracture in his right tibia and fibula suffered in a collision at home plate last May 5 while playing for Savannah. That cost Honeck, already 23 and old for the South Atlantic League, a year of development, but he’s doing his best to play catch-up.

The 6-2, lefthanded hitter was an 11th-round draft pick out of Tulane in 2009 and hit .250 with a homer and 29 RBI at Brooklyn of the New York Penn League that summer.

AROUND THE MINORS: Two Mets prospects were taken down by right hamstring injuries and placed on the disabled list last week: Savannah OF Darrell Ceciliani and Buffalo OF Fernando Martinez. … Savannah 3B Aderlin Rodriguez, a 19-year-old prospect, is off to a 3-for-35 start with 10 strikeouts. Rodriguez hit .312 with 13 homers and 48 RBI at rookie level Kingsport last season. … Buffalo 3B Zach Lutz, who opened the campaign 2-for-13, has gone 9-for-19 since with five doubles, a homer and four RBI in five games. The 24-year-old right-handed hitter has a 1.417 OPS in 12 at-bats against lefthanded pitchers. Teammate CF Kirk Nieuwenhuis has hit in seven straight, going 10-for-25 with four doubles and two RBI. … Binghamton has just two everyday players hitting over .200 and nobody hitting over .250 through nine games. Allan Dykstra, the former Padres first-round pick acquired just prior to the season, is 0-for-7. However, starting pitchers Mark Cohoon, Brad Holt and Robert Carson have ERAs under 1.00 in two starts apiece.

Comparing Familia and Gee

When judging minor league prospects you have to take a bunch of factors into consideration, including, age, pedigree, production, tools, health, level and reception to coaching. Coming into 2010 the Mets had two pitchers who were at somewhat opposite ends of the prospect spectrum: Dillon Gee and Jeurys Familia.

In 2009, the 23-year-old Gee was in Triple-A, was starting to pitch well and was on the cusp of a promotion to the majors when he was shut down for a labrum injury. But he avoided surgery and since he was not a hard thrower to begin with, Gee had a good shot to come back at full effectiveness.

Meanwhile, the 19-year-old Familia went 10-6 with a 2.69 ERA for Low-A Savannah. He lit up the radar guns but did not get as many strikeouts as you might expect, as he notched 109 Ks in 134 IP. But he got a bunch of ground balls – 48.8 percent – adding to the buzz surrounding him

Most analysts considered Familia the better long-range prospect and had him on their Top 10 lists. I went the other direction in mine and gave Gee the 10th spot on my list and ranked Familia as an honorable mention. So, with the minor league season almost over, how does that ranking look?

Gee is 13-7 with a 4.69 ERA at Triple-A while Familia is 6-8 with a 5.28 ERA at Hi-A St. Lucie. But if we look at more numbers, we see that things are not quite so rosy for Gee and that Familia has things in his profile that should excite Mets fans.

Dunn Tire Park in Buffalo has been wonderful for Gee. He has an 8-2 record with a 3.81 ERA in his home park. Additionally, he has 94 Ks and 15 BB in 87.1 IP at Dunn Tire Park. On the road, Gee is 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA. And while Gee’s K/BB ratio at home is better than 6.0 on the road it is under 3.0, as he has 67 Ks and 25 BB in 70 IP.

The home performance for Gee is not a BABIP fluke, as he has a .325 mark at home compared to a .330 mark on the road. It is not a HR issue, as he has allowed 11 in Dunn Tire Park and 9 in road games. For whatever reason, Gee has been more effective at home. This may or may not be significant but a road ERA of 5.79 does not scream out major league starter.

Overall, the biggest positives for Gee are that he was able to stay healthy and pitch a full season and that he was able to maintain a K/9 of 8.60 for the season. While he may not profile as one of the club’s five starters on Opening Day, he does offer rotation depth –someone who could be an injury replacement and make a few spot starts – and might even be an effective middle reliever.

Meanwhile, Familia seems to be improving as the season progresses. In his last five games, he is 4-0 with a 2.56 ERA. In that span he has 9 BB and 46 Ks in 31.2 IP. The walk ratio is especially significant as for the year Familia has a 5.46 BB/9. He already has the strikeouts (9.42 K/9) and he has allowed just 6 HR in 113.2 IP this season. Consistently throwing strikes will go a long way towards improving Familia’s prospect status.

This season, Familia pitched in the Futures Game, which consists of some of the top prospects in the minors. He threw 97 during his outing but 7 of his 12 pitches were balls. That outing was a microcosm of his season prior to his recent hot streak. And looking at Familia going forward, the big question is if the control of the last five games is a legitimate improvement or merely a statistical fluke.

Coming into the year, Familia’s advantages were his age, stuff, health and to a lesser degree production. Gee was much, much closer to the majors and while his stuff was not overpowering he showed solid production. In ranking Gee higher, I was influenced by how close he was to the majors and his consistent ability to maintain good K/BB and K/IP numbers throughout the minors.

Familia was too far away for me to consider him the better prospect. The minors are littered with young guys with great arms who never reach the majors for a variety of reasons. I wanted to see success from Familia at a higher level first.

The last five starts for Familia have definitely been encouraging. Now, I want to see him continue that improvement somewhere in Winter Ball. After all, even Oliver Perez has gone stretches where he doesn’t walk the ball park. Can Familia do it in Winter Ball, too?

As for Gee, I expect to see him working out of the bullpen in the majors in September. It’s possible that is the transition to his new professional role. If your 10th-best prospect makes it as a middle reliever, that is pretty good production. Especially if he was a 21st-round draft pick, like Gee was in 2007.