Early Dominance Prompts 'Familia' Refrain In Mets Org





NEW YORK—Terry Collins' phone rang and the Mets manager listened carefully. The caller spoke excitedly about one of the system's pitching prospects.

Collins already had received two similar calls about hard-throwing righthander Jeurys Familia.

Because of his background as minor league field coordinator last season, Collins might have been a bit skeptical at first. "He had a great arm, (but) no command last year," he said of Familia, who went 6-9, 5.58 for high Class A St. Lucie in 2010. He struck out 137 in 121 innings but also issued 74 walks.

"Something has happened, (and Familia has) gotten a feel for it," Collins said. "I've already gotten three calls telling me he's lights out—power sinker, power breaking ball. Everybody is saying, 'Keep an eye on this guy.'

"The command is so much better. He's one of those guys (who) when you see him throw, the sky is the limit. The ceiling is so high it's ridiculous."

Familia already had begun to reach toward that ceiling at the age of 21. He breezed through St. Lucie in six starts this season, notching a 1.49 ERA and 36-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

A promotion to Double-A Binghamton brought more good tidings. Familia allowed just five runs (three earned) through his first three starts, and through 19 innings he had struck out 14 and walked seven.

"I think this was a continuation of the last month and a half of last season," farm director Adam Wogan said. "He has begun harnessing his stuff, commanding his fastball. For him to harness (his secondary stuff) is a big step."

Familia touched triple digits on the radar gun at times last season. He still touches 98 mph on occasion, but this season he has settled in at 93-96, showing no ill effects from the injury he suffered in 2010 when he burned his hand in a cooking accident.

METAMORPHOSES

• A 22nd-round pick out of Fresno Pacific in 2008, righthander Chris Schwinden began the year as just another reliever with Binghamton. A quick promotion to Triple-A Buffalo brought out his best work. After eight starts, Schwinden ranked third among International League starters in ERA (2.36), WHIP (0.99) and opponent average (.190).

• Low Class A Savannah outfielder Cory Vaughn hasn't let diabetes slow him down. In a South Atlantic League-leading 43 games he was batting .324/.463/.473.