This morning, Sandy Alderson spoke to reporters, and a few newsworthy tidbits came out. One of the most interesting is this: Jenrry Mejia will come to Spring Training as a starter, while Jeurys Familia will come to camp as a reliever.
Alderson: Mejia will enter camp as starter; Familia, as reliever.— Mike Kerwick (@mikekerwick) February 4, 2013
Mejia and Familia aren't just close together in age — Mejia is a single day younger — they've both been thought of as "tweener" prospects for quite some time. Although both pitchers have the best-case scenario of major-league starters, neither has seen his secondary pitches develop as the Mets would like.
Mejia lost most of 2011 to Tommy John surgery and didn't show the strikeout totals he'd racked up in the past once coming back to Triple-A in 2012. In 73.2 innings, Mejia only struck out 10.8 percent of batters faced, which is not what anyone wanted to see. On the bright side, Mejia limited walks, a consistent struggle of his, only marking a 7.7 percent walk rate in Triple-A in 2012.
Though Mejia's time in New York wasn't great last season, he possesses three pitches, including a solid cutter, and has a history of getting loads of ground balls. The ability to induce worm-burners might be a reason why New York management might see him as a more useful rotation option, as compared to other developing pitchers.
While Matt Harvey, Johan Santana, Jon Niese, Shaun Marcum, and Dillon Gee appear to be guaranteed rotation spots to start the season, three of those pitchers have serious injury concerns and one is entering his first full season. There will likely be plenty of opportunity for Mejia to prove his worth as part of the major-league rotation at some point in 2013.
Familia, on the other hand, has been a highly-touted prospect more recently than his similarly-difficult-to-spell comrade. The fireballing righty didn't look bad in his Triple-A time during 2012 — 20.5 percent strikeout rate, 4.73 ERA, 3.78 FIP — but still is having trouble perfecting a second and third pitch. Though Familia has still struck out more hitters as a Triple-A starter than Mejia, scouts have said for a long time that his future is in the 'pen. Given his blistering heat, there's a chance he could be a solid setup man, or maybe even more, sometime down the road for New York. But first he'll need to become more consistent getting strikeouts and avoiding walks.
Given that the Mets' bullpen could possibly resemble a T.S. Eliot poem this season, Familia could also find himself in a prominent role sooner, rather than later.