Baseball America ranked right-hander Jeremy Jeffress as the Kansas City Royals number 13 prospect heading into the 2012 season. He has been an enigma since the Royals acquired him for Zack Greinke (but he was an enigma for the Milwaukee Brewers too).
Jeffress was drafted in 2006, but is still trying to harness his fastball. His 12-to-6 curveball is another plus pitch, but he struggles to command that too. A slight tweak to his mechanics in 2011 made his curve more of an 11-to-5 and he commands it better. His pure velocity makes him a closer option, but he started in 2011 to work on his command.
Jeffress made two appearances in April with the Royals before being sent to Triple-A Omaha in 2012 for 37 games. Over 58 innings, he allowed 52 hits and 25 walks (32 earned runs). He did strike out 61.
He then spent the month of August back in the big leagues before being sent to Double-A NW Arkansas for one appearance. Then it was back to the big leagues when rosters expanded in September. He pitched well during his August with the Royals (5.2IP, 4H, 2R, 0ER, 4BB, 8K), but imploded in five games in September. Well, really his last two (both against Cleveland). He allowed ten runs (nine earned) on nine hits and four walks over just three innings. He struck out just one. 46 of his 84 pitches were strikes.
Check out this video from his time in the Arizona Fall League in 2011. In this video (by Prospect D2J), he strikes out Seattle Mariners infielder Nick Franklin (who was the MVP of the Rising Stars Game):
The Royals made a flurry of roster moves last week, including the removal of Jeffress from the 40-man roster. That means, he is now subject to the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. If he were to test positive for drugs, he would receive a lifetime ban from baseball (he has already been suspended twice while with the Brewers). Jeffress’ struggles and removal from the 40-man roster probably means he will not be on Baseball America’s list for the 2013 season. Who knows, he may not even be a Royal by then (if he is claimed off waivers by another team).