Earlier in the year, I wrote a so-so game report on 19-year old Jeurys Familia who, at the time, was armed with a low-90’s fastball and not much else. In only a couple of months, Familia has grown significantly as a prospect and should be garnering much more attention than he currently is. Behind Jenrry Mejia and Brad Holt, Familia is quickly becoming the third-best upside arm in the entire organization and should have a place in the Mets top ten organizational prospects.
Physique and Athleticism: Familia has an excellent pitcher’s build. A solid six-foot, three inches, he looks heavier than his listed 185 pounds. While I can’t prove it, Familia also seems to be improving his physique as the season wears on. Between my first and second time seeing him pitch, I barely recognized him on the mound as he had thinned out quite a bit. With a broad, sturdy frame, his shoulders and legs are wide and well proportioned.
Mound Presence: Aggressive with a bit of a nasty streak, Familia is not afraid to throw inside early and often. In key situations, he’ll show his emotions after getting a big out. At his age, he has plenty of time to develop a third offering to remain a starter, but his mentality and repertoire would work nicely in a late inning role.
On the mound, he does not field the position particularly well and every play Familia is involved in at first base is a very close call. As he matures, his coordination may improve and allow him to better field the position. Familia is definitely a player who is still growing into his body.
Fastball: What started the season as a solid average offering is now entering plus status. The first time I watched him, he was 88-90, topping out at 92 MPH. He lost his velocity early in the game and tired early. Just two months later, he’s consistently 90-93 and can hit 94 more than a handful of times during the course of a start. His fastball movement has also improved quite a bit. In the low 90’s, the pitch bores down and in on right-handed hitters, which explains his 56% ground ball percentage. He may have also started to throw a bit of a cut fastball or two-seamer in the 88 MPH range. The pitch also has the same down-and-in movement.
Breaking Ball: Familia began the season throwing his breaking ball as a show pitch on 0-2, 1-2 counts. In his last start, he threw the pitch at will and made a few hitters look downright silly. In April, the pitch was more of your run-of-the-mill 78 MPH curveball with little bite. More recently, the pitch resembles a slurve darting down and away from right-handed hitters. The 78-81 MPH offering is also rarely left up in the zone and flashes true wipe out potential with it’s sharp bite.
Changeup: His weakest offering, it’s more of a show-me pitch at this point, although I have seen him turn to it in a couple of key situations. Familia’s feel for the pitch is about average as his arm action is solid, but he has a tendency to leave the pitch up in the zone. His change also has little movement at this point.
This year I’ve watched Jeurys Familia out duel 2008 first rounder Casey Kelly (Red Sox), 2008 supplemental first rounder Brett DeVall (Braves), and go toe to toe with Manuel Banuelos (Yankees) who is receiving quite a bit of hype on the blogosphere right now. If Familia were in this year’s draft, he’d likely be a first round pick as well.
Going forward, I’m extremely bullish based on the continuous improvement I’m seeing in his repertoire. He has made enormous strides since I first saw him and should continue to do so. Somebody needs to thank Marc Valdes, the Sand Gnats pitching coach, for doing a tremendous job with Familia, as well as Robert Carson and Kyle Allen. With Familia flashing two plus pitches and a fiery demeanor, his downside potential is that of a late inning reliever. With the development of his changeup and more consistent primary offerings, Familia could take off in 2010 and not look back.