- Adam Rubin, ESPNNewYork.com
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DENVER -- Paul DePodesta, the vice president for player development for the New York Mets, has a message for fans who clamor for the farm system's best pitching prospects to reach Citi Field this season: Don't bank on it, even after rosters expand in September.
On a day manager Terry Collins candidly assessed what remains at Triple-A in terms of starting pitching depth by saying, "I'm not sure what else is down there that can help us," DePodesta said the next wave of pitchers would advance through the system at a deliberate pace.
DePodesta was specifically referring to promising right-handers Jeurys Familia and Matt Harvey.
Familia, 21, made his Double-A debut Tuesday night for Binghamton. Harvey, the team's first-round pick out of the University of North Carolina last June, will not be far behind Familia in getting promoted to the B-Mets, although the 22-year-old Harvey had his worst professional line Tuesday night for Class A St. Lucie: 3.2 IP, 7 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2 HR, 1 HBP.
"I think a September call-up for these kind of guys right now is probably unlikely, because it doesn't necessarily serve that long-term development plan, although I'll never say never," DePodesta said. "Oftentimes these guys will dictate to us what that long-term plan is in terms of whether or not we should speed it up or slow it down. But I think it's probably aggressive at this point to expect one of those guys to be up here and contributing in September."
DePodesta said it is generally beneficial to log at least 100 innings above Class A before reaching the majors, although he does not mind jumping a pitcher straight from Double-A to the majors. By that measure, Harvey has at least 100 innings to go. Familia, who tossed seven innings in his Binghamton debut, limiting New Britain to two runs (one earned), has at least 93 innings remaining.
"Everyone's stuff and experience is a little different," DePodesta said. "Some guys will move quicker than others. I think 100, 120, 150 innings above A-ball would probably never hurt anybody before really making the big league debut. Certainly the goal from our perspective isn't to get them there quick. It's when they get there to have them never come back. In order to do that, we want to make sure that they're not just ready to survive, but they're ready to be successful.
"So to answer your original question in a much shorter way: Could Matt Harvey or Jeurys Familia or any of these other guys survive right now in the big leagues straight from A-ball? Maybe. But we want them to be successful. We don't want them to just survive."
Before Tuesday's blemish, which began inauspiciously with a bunt single, walk, hit batter and grand slam, the flame-throwing Harvey had dominated Florida State League batters, compiling a 4-1 record and 1.10 ERA.
DePodesta acknowledged, albeit speaking hours before Harvey's rocky outing, that Harvey was close to following Familia to Binghamton.
"He pitched a game I think his last time out that [minor league field coordinator] Dickie Scott said was one of the best minor league performances that he's ever seen," DePodesta said. "I think he's certainly getting close. I think the Familia move probably signals to everybody -- not just within our organization, but outside our organization -- that the carousel is now open and performance can start moving some guys. We wanted everybody to get their sea legs at the start of the season, which we think they have at this point. So I think there will be more movement as we move forward.
"Familia, obviously, was in St. Lucie last year and pitched really, really well the last six weeks there. He had a terrific spring training and then carried it into the year with a dominant first five or six weeks.
"Everybody is different," DePodesta continued. "Whenever we move a player, it's going to be with his longer-term development plan in mind. As far as Matt Harvey is concerned, there are things he's doing right now that will certainly give him success in the Florida State League but may not serve his ultimate purpose of being a very good major league starter.
"That's the careful balance we try to strike in development. You want to challenge a guy enough so that he continues to develop, but at the same time you want him to be successful so that he has the confidence to continue to perform at as high a level as he can. There are some things that Matt, for instance, or even Familia for that matter, could get away with in the Florida State League that won't be quite as easy to get away with as they continue to move up."