Daulton Jefferies continues to be among the A's early standouts in spring training this year. And a big reason why is a new pitch he has added to his repertoire.
The 25-year-old right-hander struck out three batters over two scoreless innings Saturday against the Seattle Mariners. On two of his three strikeouts, the at-bat ended on a slider, which is new to Jefferies' arsenal.
"It felt great," Jefferies said Saturday to reporters. "I've gotten past the beginner phase of it where I'm getting a lot more confident in throwing it now, and throwing it in early-ball counts, late-ball counts. It felt great, I was able to get a couple strikeouts on it.
"I think that does nothing but boost my confidence with that pitch. It is gonna be a great pitch for me because all my other pitches are so hard, so it's nice to have a little change of speed."
Jefferies now has made two nearly perfect starts this spring. His first ended by striking out Mookie Betts on three pitches. Over three innings, he now has four strikeouts, one walk and has surrendered just one hit. He hasn't allowed any earned runs.
Yes, the slider is new but Jefferies does have a history with it in the past.
"I came up with the grip a long time ago and then I kind of got away from it and then brought it back ... a couple times I threw it and it was great," Jefferies said. "[Scott Emerson] has helped with the release of it and just trying to throw it like a fastball. That's the only real pitch that I try to just throw the heck of. Everything else is pretty smooth.
"I think that was the big emphasis: Don't be afraid to bounce it."
Whatever Jefferies is doing right now is working. The A's have plenty of pitching depth and he likely will start the season in Triple-A. But depth from the mound always is needed, especially coming off a 60-game season.
The Cal product should make his way to Oakland this season, and if he pitches like this, he could stay for the long haul.