Ever since he was young, Daulton Jefferies has had a strong passion for baseball. In high school, he developed into a terrific shortstop and pitcher and received several college scholarship offers to play baseball at the Division I level.
Jefferies originally verbally committed to Stanford in the summer of his junior year of high school. But, Stanford’s offer ended up falling through, and Jefferies was forced to find a new university to attend.
He ended up deciding on the University of California, Berkeley.
“Coming here and seeing the campus, along with interacting with the coaches, it made me feel at home,” Jefferies said. “This team was on a rise, and I wanted to try and make a big impact when I first came in.”
Jefferies instantly made an impact his freshman year at California, stepping in as the No. 1 starter.
The right-handed hurler registered a 2-8 record with a 3.45 ERA and 58 strikeouts in a team-high 92 2/3 innings.
After working hard in the offseason and maturing more as a pitcher, Jefferies put up an even better sophomore season a year ago.
An All Pac-12 first team selection, Jefferies went 6-5 with a 2.92 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 80 innings, despite missing four weeks last season with bicep tendinitis.
Jefferies also pitched for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team last summer, where his performance caught scouts’ attention.
In 14 innings with Team USA, he held opponents to a .091 batting average and recorded a 12-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio.
“Being able to represent your country was definitely an experience that I’ll never forget,” Jefferies said. “It was amazing being surrounded by all those guys who are potentially first-round draft picks. It was great to play against international competition. It will only make you better for the next level.”
Following his experience with Team USA, Jefferies spent the offseason getting healthy and mentally stronger, he said.
A 6-foot, 180-pound right-handed pitcher, Jefferies features a four-pitch mix featuring a low-90s fastball. He also throws a curveball, slider and changeup.
Despite his size, Jefferies has the potential to be a first-round pick in June’s MLB First-Year Player Draft, currently ranking 24th on MLB.com’s preseason draft prospects list.
“I try not to get too involved with the off the field stuff,” Jefferies said. “I just go out there and try to do my job.”
Jefferies’ older brother, Jake, was a third round pick in the 2008 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays as a catcher and played professionally until retiring in 2012.
“He has taught me a lot about mentality and getting ready for the next level,” Jefferies said. “He’s always taught me to just stay within myself and go out there and try to not do too much. Just to do my job and to work as hard as I can to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations.”
Although expectations are high for Jefferies, he hasn’t set any personal goals, instead he’s focused on his team’s success, he said.
“I’m just trying to do what’s best for my teammates,” Jefferies said. “Go out there and control the controllable. Whatever I can do to help my team get a win I will.”
California is ranked No. 8 in Baseball America’s top 25 poll after finishing last season 36-21 overall, including a NCAA Regionals appearance. This season though, expectations are higher with an experienced team returning.
“There’s certainly the hype there, but we try not to get too involved in it,” Jefferies said. We’re one team and we have one goal, which is to get to the College World Series. We’re going to do everything we can to do that. It should be a special year.”
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