The Cal-to-Oakland baseball pipeline has garnered quite a reputation over the last decade, developing players such as Marcus Semien and Mark Canha. Daulton Jefferies still has some work to do to join these ranks, but he showed flashes of potential in his major league debut Saturday.
Jefferies, a first-round draft pick in 2016 out of Cal, was roughed up in his first professional start, giving up five runs on five hits and two walks in two innings. He struck out one.
The former Cal righty was hurt most by his strongest asset — his control. In his minor league career, Jefferies walked just 12 batters in 99.1 innings, compared to 121 strikeouts. Last night, he walked two in the first inning, however, setting up the two homers that sank his debut. His lack of fastball control within the zone also led to hard contact from the Texas Rangers.
The Oakland Athletics’ No. 7 prospect did show promise with his mid-90s fastball and biting slider, however, especially considering he had never pitched above Double-A prior to this appearance.
Yet for Cal fans, the promise of Jefferies’ skills and intangibles is nothing new.
Jefferies was Cal’s top pitcher during his time in Berkeley, compiling a 2.72 career ERA with 185 strikeouts in 221.1 innings. He pitched his way to an All-Pac-12 first team selection during his sophomore year and was a 2016 second-team preseason All-American as a junior. Though the hard-throwing righty was sidelined a large chunk of that year with an injury, his work was strong enough for him to get drafted 37th overall by the Oakland Athletics.
Beyond his stats, Jefferies was arguably the best pitcher to wear the blue and gold uniform after the 2011 season, when the Cal baseball program would have been cut had it not been for booster and alumni donations. This signaled the start of a new era in the program: Jefferies led the 2015 squad to its first postseason appearance in four years under newfound financial and recruiting stability.
Jefferies will most likely be sent back to the alternate site of the A’s, though he may see more time in the majors when the A’s play a doubleheader in a couple of weeks. Regardless of whether he sees major league action again this year, Jefferies remains a top prospect for the Oakland A’s and figures to be a key piece in the rotation moving forward.