To this point, the Royals haven’t gotten a lot (at the big league level) out of the players they received in December’s trade of Zack Greinke. Alcides Escobar has played some excellent defense for Kansas City, but he’s been the only regular at the big league level.
Jeremy Jeffress began the season with the big league club, but he was shipped down to Omaha to work on his control. The Royals even toyed with the idea of giving him regular work as a starter.
Now, he’s being moved down another level to pitch for Northwest Arkansas in Double A.
The biggest weakness of Jeffress’s game is control. If he’s around the strike zone, he can be filthy. With a fastball that regularly hits the high 90s and a sharp 12-to-6 curve, he has the stuff you’d look for in a future closer.
Unfortunately, he’s not around the strike zone often enough for his stuff to be effective.
In 15.1 innings with the Royals, Jeffress walked 11 batters. Combined with his innings with the Brewers last year, he’s walked 6 batters per nine innings. In Omaha, he’s put up a 7.12 ERA and a 1.875 WHIP. A 24/18 K/BB ratio over 24 innings just isn’t going to do it.
A trip to Double A may take some pressure off of him, but he has to perform. With a bullpen packed with 20-somethings who are getting big leaguers out, and with minor league relievers like Patrick Keating and Kelvin Herrera making their way up the ladder, he’s not irreplaceable, especially if he doesn’t get his command in line.
Jeffress was our #15 prospect coming into 2011.