Monday, December 20, 2010
Arizona Fall League Scouting Report: Jeremy Jeffress
Jeremy Jeffress (Kansas City Royals)
From: South Boston, VA (1st rounder in 2006 straight from High School)
Part of the recent Zack Greinke trade, Jeffress had one of the more electric arms I got a chance to see at the Arizona Fall League. We’ll get into that in a minute, but upfront there’s one very important piece of information you should know about Jeffress. He’s one toke away from a lifetime ban from baseball. Jeffress has already been suspended twice for violating baseball’s substance abuse policy and a third time means he’ll get the boot. I don’t have a problem with pot use as long as it doesn’t alter work habits or on field performance, and in Jeffress’ case it just might.
Like a lot of the pitchers in Arizona, Jeffress had primarily been a starter during his pro career (unitl this past season) but projects as a bullpen arm. The Royals will almost certainly insert him in the bullpen immediately, in part to free him from the more strict nature of the minor league drug testing policies. If the Royals decide to trade Joakim Soria, Jeffress will be ticketed for high leverage inning (the few that exist in KC) work right off the bat.
Jeffress’ fastball is devastating. He sat at 95-97mph and touched 99 once when I saw him in person in mid October, and then hit 101mph on TV during the Rising Stars game. It’s very straight, almost no tail, but the raw velocity behind it more than compensates.
Sure, the fastball is good but the secondary stuff is lacking. I had read that his curveball was flashy and inconsistent but I didn’t even see a glimpse of a swing and miss breaking ball in any of his outings in Zona. When he did throw it, it was blunt and hittable in the upper 70s. His changeup sits in the mid to high 80s. He can throw it for strikes, but his arm speed is noticeably slower than it is when he throws the heater. The dominant fastball and lack of viable secondary offerings already points to the bullpen.
Throws from a three quarters arm angle and has fairly easy arm action for someone who throws so hard. He does not repeat his delivery well. You can clearly see this in the video below when he drops his arm angle significantly on his final warm up offering. This inability to repeat the same throwing motion leads to control problems and is likely the cause of his curveball’s inconsistency as well as his problems with command.
He strikes out a ton of batters, and has had problems with walks (sounds like a reliever to me). His walk totals dropped significantly last season (from 8 per 9 innings in 2009 to 3 per 9 innings in 2010) but the sample of innings from 2010 is too small (due to the suspension) to say his control issues are solved.