OAKLAND, Ca. (KRON) — As the Oakland Athletics solidify their starting pitching rotation this season, keep an eye on Daulton Jefferies.
The Cal product and north central California native could make waves on the mound for the A’s this season.
He made a strong start to his 2021 campaign by striking out Mookie Betts on Cactus League opening day.
“It felt great. I was pretty proud of myself because it was kind of a redemption thing because I was proving to myself that I can pitch in the big leagues,” said Jefferies.
The emerging A’s pitcher grew up in the small town of Atwater, about 2 hours east of the Bay Area, where he says he actually cheered on the Giants.
“Where I grew up you’re either a Giants fan, A’s fan or a Dodger fan. I went to more Giants games going to see Barry Bonds and Jeff Kent and all those guys,” said Jefferies.
But once the righty took his talents to Cal-Berkeley for college, he says his allegiance started to change.
“I didn’t start going to A’s games until college because it was a cheaper BART ride and you know it was a lot of fun. And they were cheaper tickets so it was great, as a poor college kid you can’t beat it,” said Jefferies.
Little did Jefferies know that after his senior season, he would be selected 37th overall by that same franchise.
“I know that our clubhouse is really special. You have those veteran guys, they’re just so approachable, so great. You can ask them anything and everything, and even our coaching staff too,” said Jefferies.
Jefferies climb through the A’s farm system came to a sudden halt in early 2017 due to an elbow injury that required Tommy Kohn’s surgery.
“When you’re going through Tommy John’s you go through a lot of emotions, you have your highs, you have your lows, it gets very stagnant at time, you don’t see a lot of growth,” said Jefferies.
Jefferies was determined to make his comeback greater than the setback.
He played in Double A in 2019. While there was no official minor league season in 2020 due to the pandemic, he was called up from the A’s taxi squad for his major league debut on September 12th, 2020 in Texas.
“It was nuts. I was more excited not to hear the news myself but to tell my parents. My mom was in shambles, she was bawling. Just yelling and screaming I had to take the phone away from my ear,” said Jefferies.
Since his family couldn’t attend that game due to the pandemic, he says when he makes his first appearance at the coliseum this season he knows it will be special.
“A huge honor, and I know I’ve worked my butt off to get to this point and that would be pretty special. I think pitching in front of my friends and family is going to be more memorable than my debut by far,” said Jefferies.
Jefferies says this offseason he worked harder than ever to prepare for the show, and after some nice outings in Cactus League play, 2021 is poised to be his breakout year.
“I have confidence and trust in myself that I can pitch in the big leagues I do belong here,” said Jefferies.
Jefferies started on the mound for the A’s on Sunday March 28th as they faced the Giants in spring training. He pitched 5 innings, giving up 3 hits and 1 earned run.
The A’s defeated the Giants 9-3.