Familia is only 22-years-old, but his stat line entering Monday's contest read like someone who has been facing Triple-A hitters for a few years already. After two starts in his first season with the Bisons at the AAA level, Familia was 1-0 with a 3.72 ERA.
"His first start was a little shaky, his second was much better," said Bisons' pitching coach Mark Brewer. "He became more consistent, and threw all of his pitches around the zone more often than not."
For Familia it's that type of command that needs to be improved and made consistent in order to get his call-up. When he's successful he has been able to command his secondary pitches and throw them for strikes – a major focus of his offseason workouts.
"In Spring Training I worked on my changeup," Familia said. "I worked on my curveball and fastball command and I think everything is better this year. I started to throw my changeup more in the games [this season], because last year I didn't have confidence in [it]."
That work carried into Spring Training where he spent time with the big league club. That experience has clearly benefited the 6-foot-4 righty, as he had been one of the most impressive Bisons' starters thus far before Monday's rocky outing.
His improved control has allowed him to limit the amount of free passes he gives up. Famila had only surrendered six walks in his 9.2 innings of work while striking out twelve.
Although his control is something that the big righty has steadily improved throughout his time in the minors, it still needs to be polished before making that next jump, as evidenced by his six walks issued on Monday night.
"He's got big league stuff," Brewer said. "He's got a better than average fastball from a velocity standpoint, but his command is not where it needs to be to pitch in the big leagues. It just depends on how quick he adjusts to this league and becomes dominant like he was in the two leagues before."
Although his command is what is holding him back from making a major league roster at the moment, Familia had not let it lead to giving up runs. He has pitched relatively well with runners on.
"I think he's pitched real well this season," said Bisons' manager Wally Backman prior to Monday's game. "He's a work in progress, he's a [22-year-old] kid who needs to learn to pitch to both sides of the plate more consistently.
"But his stuff plays in the big leagues right now. All three of his pitches are out-pitches, so it's just a matter of him getting more time under his belt."
While Familia admits he's eager to take the mound at Citi field, he thinks he still needs to put some more work in before that call comes.
"I think I can play [with the Mets]," Familia said. "But right now I have to do my work here in AAA. When [the Mets] want to call me up they will."
Young Familia Readies Himself For Majors
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