Profile: Originally drafted by the Brewers in the first round (16th overall) in 2006, Jeffress worked his way up through the Brewers minor league system, making his Major League debut in September of 2010.
He made ten relief appearances with Milwaukee that season, going 1-0 with a 2.70 earned run average. Jeffress struck out eight in ten innings of work, but was dealt to Kansas City in the offseason as part of the trade that brought Zack Greinke to the Brewers.
Jeffress pitched in 14 games for the Royals in 2011, going 1-1 with a .470 earned run average in 15 and 1/3 innings of relief. He spent the remainder of the season between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha.
2012 was a near mirror image for Jeffress. He again spent time with the Royals Double-A and Triple-A affiliates and pitched in 13 big league games with the Royals.
In November of 2012, his contract was purchased from the Royals by the Toronto Blue Jays. He spent the majority of his 2013 season at Triple-A Buffalo and enjoyed his best stint in the big leagues, going 1-0 with an 0.87 earned run average in ten relief outings for the Blue Jays. In 10.1 innings, Jeffress struck out 12 batters and allowed just a single earned run.
He began 2014 back with the Blue Jays and saw action in just three games before being designated for assignment. Jeffress opted for free agency and re-signed with the Brewers organization where he was assigned to Triple-A Nashville. Back with the organization that drafted him, Jeffress was dominant with the Sounds, going 4-1 with a 1.51 earned run average in 30 appearances. He took over as the Nashville closer after Donovan hand struggled, and picked up five saves prior to his promotion.
Strengths: Jeffress best attribute has always been his big, live fastball. He routinely sits in the mid-90’s, reaching back for high-90’s heat when needed, and has been clocked as high 100 mph in the past. Jeffress also throws an above average curveball with a big break to it that can be deadly when he throws it for strikes. The 26-year-old has past major league experience, so the bright lights of Miller Park shouldn’t be a problem for him.
Weaknesses: Jeffress doesn’t have a third pitch that he can throw consistently, which leaves him relegated to a relief role. He has had struggles with his command in the past – locating his curveball in particular – and has gotten in to trouble by allowing too many free passes. Jeffress also had off the field issues in the past – he was suspended on several occasions for marijuana use as he tried to deal with seizures he was suffering – but those issues appear to be behind him.
Future: The Brewers need help in their bullpen and Jeffress power arm could be just what the doctor ordered. His ability to rack up K’s could be big for Milwaukee late in ball games and he could eventually work his way in to some high pressure innings as a right-handed set-up man for Francisco Rodriguez. Consistency will be key for Jeffress. If he can throw his fastball and curve for strikes, he should prove to be a valuable member of the Brewers bullpen, not only this season, but in future seasons as well.