Pitcher catches big league attention
Despite this year’s poor king salmon run, one Outsider recently landed a 190-pound Chinook.
Chugiak-Eagle River ace Mike Jeffreys signed a professional contract with the Kansas City Royals organization last week.
Jeffreys left Chugiak the morning of Friday, July 26 to ink his deal at the Royals’ spring training camp in Surprise, Ariz., and was not available for comment.
“He was nothing but all big smiles when he left,” Chinooks’ head coach Jon Groth said.
The 6-foot-4 Pittsburgh native is forgoing his senior year at Geneva (Penn.) College and was expected to join Kansas City’s Class A affiliate in Burlington, N.C., soon after signing with the team.
Jeffreys caught scouts’ attention during the Alaska Baseball League Showcase on July 19-20 at Mulcahy Stadium.
Jeffreys has a wicked one-two punch — a 93 mph fastball and a nasty changeup, Groth said. The latter pitch is already up to MLB standards, Groth said.
“He’s got an absolute Major League changeup,” he said.
In a press release, Jeffreys said he was glad he performed well during the Showcase.
“Obviously, this is a dream come true for me as a baseball player,” he said. “While I will miss all the guys on the team and playing here in Alaska, I’m very excited about the next step.”
After being on the receiving end of Jeffreys’ pitches for nearly the entire ABL season, it was no surprise to Chinooks’ catcher Zach Harbison that the team’s strikeout leader is moving on.
“He’s a lot more polished than most college pitchers,” Harbison said.
A two-time ABL all-star, Jeffreys led the league last year with 49 strikeouts in 47 innings of work. He racked up 30 K’s this season with a 3.91 ERA in 43 2/3 innings.
Jeffreys had other teams interested in his arm, but he signed with Kansas City because of the team’s potential.
“One of the reasons I picked the Royals is the ability to be a part of the foundation on a team that is building for the future,” Jeffreys said in a written statement. “They also have a very good history with developing young pitchers.”
A quiet and unassuming 21-year-old, Jeffreys is a tough competitor with a strong arm, Groth said. If he can add a few miles per hour to his fastball and develop one more pitch, Groth said, the future looks bright for Jeffreys.
“I can see him being a Big League pitcher,” Groth said. “He’s got a chance.”
Chinooks’ catcher Daniel Salters agreed.
“He has a ton of potential,” Salters said. “He’s ridiculous.”
Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or firstname.lastname@example.org.