Alaska Baseball League News Feed
Jeffreys impresses scouts, now a Royal
MOON TWP. ---It has become nearly impossible in this age of information for a talented draft-eligible amateur baseball player to go unnoticed.
Each of the 30 major-league teams employ extensive scouting staffs and also have the centralized Major League Baseball Scouting Bureau to rely upon for information. Numerous websites are filled with profiles of players who might be selected in that year’s amateur draft.
Seemingly no one slips through the cracks.
Except Mike Jeffreys.
The right-handed pitcher and Moon Area High School graduate did not get selected in the 50-round draft last June following a stellar junior season at Geneva College. In fact, scouts did not even bother to show up at the Golden Tornadoes’ 37th Street Field in Beaver Falls to watch Jeffreys pitch.
Yet Jeffreys will be reporting to his first professional spring training March 5 when he takes part in the Kansas City Royals’ minor-league camp at Surprise, Ariz. He signed with the Royals as a free agent last July after a strong showing in the Alaska Baseball League’s All-Star Game in Anchorage.
“It’s all pretty amazing,” Jeffreys said, shaking his head during a recent interview.
Jeffreys was dominant last spring for Geneva, posting a 1.73 ERA in 12 games while striking out 106 and walking just nine in 67 2/3 innings in the Division III Presidents Athletic Conference.
For a second straight summer, he headed off to Alaska to play for the Chugiak Eagle River Chinooks in a league for college players. Jeffreys hoped to have a good season and perhaps impress scouts enough to at least scout him during his senior season.
“It was a great experience to go to Alaska after my sophomore year,” Jeffreys said. “The competition is really good there. I faced a lot of hitters from Division I programs and learned a lot from the experience. I wanted to have another good summer then come back and finish up with a strong senior year.”
Instead, Jeffreys used his summer as a springboard to pro ball.
He pitched one inning in the all-star game in Anchorage and his fastball consistently registered at 94 mph. All of a sudden, scouts were scrambling to find out who this 6-foot-4 kid was from a school whose name brings to mind peace talks rather than baseball.
“The scout from the Scouting Bureau came up to me and said ‘we missed you, we all missed you,’” Jeffreys recalled with a laugh.
Jeffreys was a free agent because he had completed three years of eligibility at a four-year college. Thus, he wound up being the subject of a bidding war between the Royals, Pirates and Red Sox.
Though the allure of signing with the hometown Pirates was strong, the Royals eventually won him over with a better offer that included paying the tuition for his last two semesters at Geneva..
“It was crazy,” Jeffreys said. “Scouts were calling constantly for about a week. I was even getting calls in the bullpen during games.”
Jeffreys was assigned to the Royals’ rookie-level Burlington farm club in the Appalachian League and performed well, allowing only one earned run in six relief appearances and 10 1/3 innings for a sparkling 0.87 ERA. He then attended the Royals’ instructional league camp in Surprise, Ariz., after the minor-league season ended.
Jeffreys has spent the offseason bulking up and now weighs 208 after adding 18 pounds.
While Jeffreys was a starter throughout his amateur career, the Royals have yet to tell him whether he will pitch in that role this season or again work in relief. He will likely open the season at low Class A Lexington in the South Atlantic League, though an assignment to high Class A Wilmington in the Carolina League is also a possibility.
While the odds are stacked against an undrafted free agent making it to the major leagues, Jeffreys has already come a long way. He had no scholarship offers following his senior year at Moon, though Pitt gave him an opportunity to make the team as a preferred walk-on.
Jeffreys choose to attend Geneva because of its civil engineering program. However, those plans are on hold.
“Playing professional baseball is what I’ve dreamed of doing since I was probably 9 years old,” Jeffreys said. “Sometimes it seems like it still hasn’t sunk in that I’m actually playing pro ball. I think about what’s happened since last summer sometimes and it’s just hard to believe.”