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2016 MLB Draft: Daulton Jefferies, RHP, University of California

You don't have to be a 6-7 hulk to interest scouts if you have good stuff and know how to pitch. University of California right-hander Daulton Jefferies is listed at just 6-0, 180 pounds, but three months ago it looked like he was heading towards the top of the first round. Unfortunately a mid-spring injury has intervened, but he should still get drafted early.

Jefferies went to high school in Atwater, California, and was selected in the 39th round by the Miami Marlins in 2013. He could have gone considerably higher but teams didn't think they could buy him away from the University of California baseball program. He immediately took over a spot in the starting rotation as a freshman, posting a 3.45 ERA in 15 starts with a 58/21 K/BB over 91 innings. His sophomore season in 2015 was even better, with a 2.93 ERA in 80 innings and a greatly improved 74/17 K/BB ratio.

Jefferies opened 2016 very strongly and was shooting up draft boards quickly. Unfortunately he got hurt after six starts and was shut down in early April. The injury was vaguely described initially but later revealed as a shoulder strain. Anything with the shoulder is guaranteed to turn teams off, but rest seemed to cure the issue. He came back on May 23rd with three shutout innings against Utah, followed up by five shutout innings with six strikeouts on May 28th against Washington State. Overall he pitched 50 innings this spring, with a 1.08 ERA, a 53/8 K/BB, and just 34 hits allowed.

When healthy, Jefferies features a low-90s fastball, a breaking ball variously described as a hard curve or a slider, and a solid-average change-up that he needs to use more frequently as he moves up. His command is excellent and all of his pitches play up due to his instincts, ability to locate with precision, and aggressive challenging of hitters. He is quite polished and could advance rapidly up the pro ladder, projecting as a number three starter who could be ready in two years or less, if healthy.

His draft status will depend on how teams assess the injury risk. .

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