Who: Jeremy Ross Jeffress
DOB: 9/21/1987, South Boston, Virginia
Weight: 195 lb
Acquired: Traded with Alcides Escobar, Lorenzo Cain and Jake Odorizzi from Brewers for Zack Greinke and Yuniesky Betancourt – 12/19/2010
~ Baseball America: #3 (Milwaukee)
~ Royals Review #16
~ Kevin Goldstein: #9
~ John Sickels: #8 B+
|AA (3 seasons)||AA||4||5||5.43||56.1||46||62||1.722||8.1||0.5||7.3||9.9||1.35|
|A+ (3 seasons)||A+||6||7||3.68||122.1||70||152||1.316||6.7||0.5||5.1||11.2||2.17|
|A (2 seasons)||A||9||5||2.86||94.1||47||109||1.155||5.9||0.8||4.5||10.4||2.32|
|Rk (1 season)||Rk||2||5||5.88||33.2||25||37||1.634||8.0||0.0||6.7||9.9||1.48|
Jeremy Jeffress is the only player in our rankings who has major league experience, having put up 10 innings with the Brewers last September and put up a 2.70 ERA, striking out 8 and walking 6.
Jeffress hasn’t had the easiest path to the big leagues. Twice he’s failed tests for marijuana and served a 50- and 100-game suspension. One more failure would have resulted in a permanent ban from the game. After being added to the Brewers 40 man roster, the threat of a ban disappeared (MLB still tests players but serves no suspensions for major league players). Jeffress has been in therapy to deal with the addiction and this program was continued after he was traded to the Royals.
The Brewers seemed insistent on using Jeffress as a starter to give him more innings and more value, but they shifted him to relief pitching to help him maintain his focus on being ready to pitch on any given day, rather than having four days of idle time. Other than the failed tests, he has no reported off-field issues.
Maybe it’s cynical, but teams are probably a bit more willing to work with off the field issues like that when the player in question can hit triple digits and has a curveball with serious movement. Jeffress has two excellent pitches that make him a potential closer and a dynamic setup man. The fastball can get up to 100 but usually sits in the mid-to-upper 90s. It’s straight but he delivers it from an easy delivery and it pops out of his hand. The curveball has good action buT Jeffress doesn’t have the best command of it yet. He’s the typical fireballing reliever who can rack up strikeouts, but also walks a lot of batters. If he can muster a bit of control over the curveball and throw it consistently for strikes, he’ll be a very dangerous pitcher. In 2010, he surrendered just 26 hits over 42 innings pitched
The suspensions have limited Jeffress’s innings in the minor leagues, so while he’s 24 years old, he hasn’t put a lot of mileage on his arm. He still has a bit of polish to make up for those innings missed, but the trade off is that he might have a bit more life when he throws.
In 2011, he will see time in the big leagues, it’s just a matter of when. If he can show good control in spring training, he should make the team out of camp. If he’s still struggling with locating the curve, he might get a month in Omaha to work things out. The Royals have a lot of good young bullpen arms in the wings, so they can afford to be patient with Jeffress. As it is, Jeffress has similar upside to Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel, another potential closer, according to John Sickels.
According to his agent, when Jeffress heard of his involvement in the Zack Greinke trade, he was fired up to play for the Royals. If he can settle down the control a bit, fans will be fired up to see him get the game to Joakim Soria over the next few years. He, along with Louis Coleman and Tim Collins could be a formidable bullpen combination for years.
Keep track of the full list of prospects in the Kings of Kauffman Countdown on our Prospect Rankings page under the Organization tab or by clicking here. Stay current on all the Kings of Kauffman content and news by following us on Twitter, Facebook, or by way of our RSS feed.