Daulton Jefferies has not been considered a top 100 prospect thus far in his career. That oversight may change soon.
Back in 2016, the Oakland A’s selected Daulton Jefferies with the 37th overall pick in the MLB Draft. He was considered to be the type of pitcher that could fly through their system given his outstanding command and advanced feel for pitching. Armed with low 90s fastball and an exceptional change, the biggest question with Jefferies was whether or not he could develop a consistent third offering.
Then came 2017. Jefferies lasted all of seven innings before he underwent Tommy John surgery, costing him virtually all of 2018 as well. He did come back for two innings in the Arizona Rookie League, allowing one hit while striking out five, but there were concerns as to whether or not he would able to ascend the ranks as previously hoped.
Consider that question answered. Jefferies reestablished himself as one of the more intriguing pitchers in the A’s system in 2019, making just five appearances in the California League before moving up to AA. All told, he posted a 3.42 ERA and a 1.038 WHiP in his 79 innings, striking out 93 batters with just nine walks.
Typically, after Tommy John surgery, command is the last thing to come back. Jefferies, however, showed that his previous ability to command the strike zone and spot his pitches virtually anywhere he wanted remaining intact.
As impressive as his performance was in 2019, it is possible that he could improve. He will be another year removed from surgery, so his command could actually improve. Opponents also had a .328 batting average on balls in play against Jefferies in AA, a mark that is approximately 30 points above average.
That development of a third pitch could make the difference in Jefferies’ future. He has continued experimenting with different grips, with the end result being some sort of slider-cutter hybrid. Should that pitch develop into a viable option, Jefferies could end up surprising as a major league starter. Otherwise, his fastball/change combo could be enough to make him a devasting option in the bullpen.
Daulton Jefferies is somewhat overlooked as a prospect in the A’s system. If he can replicate his success from 2019, and have a consistent third offering, he will not be overlooked for long.