St. Lucie's Familia continues to cruise

Prospect combines with Harvey to give Mets lethal 1-2 punch

Jeurys Familia has allowed one earned run over 25 2/3 innings. (Scott Jontes/

By Ashley Marshall / Special to | April 23, 2011 8:24 PM ET

For the fourth time this season, Mets farmhand Jeurys Familia took the mound a night after watching former first-round pick Matt Harvey dominate the opposition.

As in his previous three starts, Familia was every bit as good as the de facto ace of the rotation.

The 21-year-old right-hander scattered three hits while striking out eight over seven innings Saturday as the St. Lucie Mets kept rolling with a 7-0 blanking of the Jupiter Hammerheads.

While it was Familia's first win of the season, it lowered his ERA to 0.35. Through four Florida State League starts, he's allowed one earned run over 25 2/3 innings.

Twenty-four hours after watching Harvey improve to 4-0 and keep his ERA at 0.00, Familia was equally impressive. 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 is a young pitcher, but he is throwing the ball very well," St. Lucie pitching coach Phil 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."

While he waited four games to earn his first victory, the native of the Dominican Republic has pitched well in every appearance.

Familia, who pitched for the World Team at last year's Futures Game, yielded one hit over seven innings in his season debut against Palm Beach on April 8. Five nights later, he gave up one run on one hit and two walks in Fort Myers.

Facing the Miracle again on April 18, he allowed an unearned run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings.

Thanks to Familia and Harvey, the 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.

"From top to bottom, this is one of the best pitching staffs I have worked with," said Regan, a 13-year Major League veteran. "We have good right-handed pitching, our starters have been doing very well and the bullpen has been great.

"One of the things that we really stressed in Spring Training was throwing strikes. We have put a big emphasis on that right now and it seems to be paying off."

Harvey has led the way, but Familia ranks second in the league in ERA, third in strikeouts and boasts the best opponents' batting average at .110.

Scott Moviel, Jeff Kaplan and Nicholas Carr provide depth, both in the rotation and the bullpen.

The 6-foot-11 Moviel, selected in the second round of the 2007 Draft, is 2-0 in three starts, while Kaplan is 6-for-6 in save opportunities with a 0.93 ERA in eight games.

"What can you say about Matt? He's pitched very well for us and his work habits are good," Regan said. "There are still some things he needs to continue to work on, but he will be really great.

"[Scott] has been improving and getting better every time he goes out there, too, but he is still learning to use all of his body to pitch. Kaplan has a good sinking fastball and a good slider and his makeup is very good."

Factor in Collin McHugh, a starter Regan described as "a strong pitcher and fast learner" and Carr -- who's 2-0 with three saves and a 1.04 ERA in six relief appearances -- and you can see why St. Lucie has raced to a 15-2 start.

Ashley Marshall is a contributor to This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.

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