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Aviators’ top pitching prospect rounds into form after injury

After starting the 2021 season on the injured list, pitcher Daulton Jefferies is back with the Aviators and beginning to round into form.

When the season began in early May, Jefferies, who is the Oakland A’s No. 4 prospect according to MLB.com, was in Arizona rehabbing a bicep issue.

After a dominant spring training in which the 25-year-old posted a 1.50 ERA across six Cactus League games, Jefferies was bit by the injury bug. Instead of playing through the pain to be available for opening day, he took a cautious approach, not wanting to risk further injury so early in the season.

“I felt it right after spring training. It just wasn’t worth trying to throw through anything,” Jefferies said. “I went down to Arizona, and we had a great staff that took care of me pretty well. I was able to get out of there in about two weeks.”

He had an impressive season debut on May 24th in a loss to the Salt Lake Bees, not allowing a run in four innings.

Jefferies has made five starts for the Aviators this season. Through his first four starts, he pitched a total of 19⅔ innings, only giving up three runs while posting a 1.37 ERA. However, things unraveled for him Monday night in the Aviators’ 21-16 loss to Reno. He gave up seven runs in four innings.

“I try not to put too much pressure on myself,” he said. “I think this game is pretty simple. We have so much information that we make it hard on ourselves. The ability to have confidence and go out there and trust yourself is huge.”

The potential for Jefferies to push for a spot on the A’s roster and receive a call-up is there if he can continue to put together solid performances.

Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin spoke of Jefferies a few weeks ago, saying that he was “on the verge” of making the A’s roster earlier in the year if not for the injury.

Jefferies’ MLB debut with the A’s came last season. It wasn’t his best showing, giving up five runs and two homers in just two innings. He finished with a 22.50 ERA.

Though it wasn’t the type of night he would’ve hoped for, Jefferies still feels that there were a lot of good things he was able to take away from the experience.

“The results weren’t too great, but it was awesome to get my feet wet,” he said. “The first inning was a little rocky, but the second inning I (bounced back). Just to be able to know that I can pitch at this level … that was big for my confidence.”

With the prospect of a call-up looming, Jefferies doesn’t see it as added pressure. “I just try to be as consistent as possible, put zeroes on the board and pitch as many innings as I can,” he said. “I like to go out there and have fun, not be too serious and just enjoy it.”

Contact Aidan Subira at asubira@reviewjournal.com

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