OAKLAND, Calif. -- Four hours before the Oakland Athletics take the field against the Texas Rangers, the No. 37 overall pick in this weekend's MLB Draft, Daulton Jefferies, sits, tapping his cowboy boots on the rubberized floor of the A's dugout. The custom home jersey the A's sent out to be made up for Jefferies for the evening was mis-spelled. It says "JEFFRIES" on the back.
"It's a common occurrence," he says. The A's want to scrap it. He wants to keep it.
"Maybe I'll take it, hide it and just wear it my first time out," he jokes. It would be an inside joke that maybe three people would get.
"I talked to him when he came in a little bit," says Semien, who works out at Cal during the offseason. "I talked to him a bit, showed him the video room, what we've got in there, and just congratulated him. Me being a position guy, I talk more with the position guys at the cages, and I never played with him, but I've heard a lot about him, and said 'Hello' when I saw him, and saw all the hard work he was putting in to get to this point."
Jefferies, a former shortstop himself, is fascinated by Semien's routine.
He flashes what barely qualifies as a smirk. For Jefferies, it may as well be an ear-to-ear grin.
"This is as excited as I ever get," he says, through a reflexive chuckle.
'Excitable' isn't a word that fits Jefferies. On the mound, he's iron. He was a Friday-night starter from his first day in Berkeley. He's dueled against the best, and hasn't flinched. That may have something to do with the baseball bat he took to the face at the age of six. After that, nothing fazes him.
"There are certain guys that get your attention right away," manager Bob Melvin said. "We were also looking at the kid from Rice, last year, but watching him (Jefferies), you knew right away, you could tell the stuff, the command of it, mound presence, the whole bit, he's a feature guy. Then, he goes into this year with even more scrutiny on him, too, and he pitches even better. This is a guy that we were lucky to get, at the spot we got him. Really the total package."
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1677352-jefferies-oakland-... His mother, Lisa, Jefferies says, leaped up and down, knees springing up into her chest, when his name was called on Thursday. He doesn't get his emotional range from her. She's been kicked out of "a few" high school games, according to Jefferies's father, John. She's spirited. Her son is subdued. He says he hates it, but then, he says he secretly loves it.
"I didn't have to plug my ears," Jefferies says. "She was getting pretty excited. If I make it up to here, she'll be the loudest one in the stands, which is saying a lot. I can't wait to get started."
Lisa spent Tuesday night up in the team suite, with Jefferies's father, brother Jake and two high school friends ("They're A's fans, so they're pretty excited," Jefferies says), enjoying the high life for a night, before her baby boy heads out to Arizona on Thursday to begin further rehab on his right shoulder.
"I had the MRI today, and we took it to [Dr. Will] Workman, the team doctor, and he said everything cleared up," said Jefferies, who dealt with a sub-scapular muscle strain that knocked him out for eight weeks, after he started his junior season 6-0. "Everything went away. That was a huge relief for me."
The A's, he says, want to be "120 percent" sure that he's completely physically sound before assigning him to one of their minor league teams.
"I'm just going with the flow," he says.
That flow included meeting with Melvin -- a former Cal catcher -- in his office. Jefferies had been to the Coliseum five or six times for games since he got to Cal, and had a meeting with the A's before the draft, but this was a new experience.
"I'm embracing the whole stadium," he says.
"I've gotten a lot of feedback from the time we signed him -- all good," Melvin said. "Very talented guy. You look at his record, it speaks highly about who he is. I got to visit with him in my office, and I know he's been running around here, and finally go him signed up, and I know he's excited about that."
The future is laid out like a carpet for Jefferies, who will actually sign his contract -- reportedly featuring a $1.6 million bonus -- in Arizona, once he heads out. His teammate Alex Schick has already signed with the Minnesota Twins, and, along with catcher Mitchell Kranson and senior right-hander Ryan Mason, is headed to a rookie mini camp in Florida on Wednesday.
"It's nice to be able to get him signed early, get him here and show him around a little bit," Melvin said. "We expect big things out of him."
His apartment back in Berkeley is nearly empty. Jefferies's parents will have to finish clearing it out once he moves on to Arizona.
For now, Jefferies -- the highest draft pick for the A's who's not still playing -- sits on the A's bench, eyes glued to the scene unfolding before him. Washington looks over at Jefferies after a peppering Semien with fungo swings. Semien takes shots at point-blank range, to the right and the left, forehand and backhand, without missing a beat. "Think you can do that?" Washington asks.
"Yeah," Jefferies says, bashfully.
http://www.scout.com/college/california/story/1677165-daulton-jefferies-... He turns.
"I just talked to Ron Washington," he whispers, almost giggling.
At his side sits the camouflage A's cap he bought at the Merced Mall the day he was drafted. He chats with Stephen Vogt about the camouflage jerseys worn by various big league teams. Jefferies is a country boy. His faded boots and the heel-worn hem of his jeans are a testament to that.
Despite living for three years in Berkeley -- and having his truck with him this year -- he's never even heard of Jack London Square, where he dined with front office staff before heading to the Oakland Coliseum. He's guzzled a lot of gas today in his decidedly-not-eco-friendly conveyance -- a vehicle not so welcome in Berkeley. Camouflage is OK by him.
As manager Melvin's appointed time to address the media approaches, Jefferies -- who's only ever had to deal with three, maybe five media members at a time in his college career -- looks over at the throng of over a dozen writers, ready to get their first crack at the local kid from Atwater, Calif.
"This is all for me?"
He's incredulous. Jefferies, his father says, has never been the "quiet kid in the corner." He's always been more of a quiet leader, than anything. But today, he's a kid who just got the key to the toy factory. His youthful looks and explosive fastball have been compared to Sonny Gray, who sits just up the tunnel in the Oakland clubhouse. Jefferies says he said hi to Gray earlier. He barely got the word out.
"What am I going to tell him, that people say we have the same baby face?"
When the media surrounds him, he confesses that Gray -- who played in the same College World Series as Semien in 2011 -- is his idol.
"I tried to hold back a lot of things to say to Sonny, just because he's my idol," Jefferies said. "I look up to him a lot. I just said, 'Hey, how's it going?' That's about it. I tried to stay composed ... He plays the game the right way, plays the game for the right reasons. I look to emulate that. I want to be like him when I grow up, I guess."
He admits to watching a lot of Gray highlights on YouTube over the last year.
"Probably a year ago, somebody said I looked like him, so I wanted to see for myself," Jefferies says. "We look a little alike. He was one of my top YouTube searches, just watching him pitch.
"Don't think I'm weird, or anything," Jefferies adds. "I want to emulate his game."
"He has a power curve, and I'm working with a power change up and a power slider," Jefferies said of the comparisons. "I want to be a master of my craft. A lot of guys come into pro ball not knowing what kind of pitcher they are, and knowing if you're a power guy or a sink guy. Figuring out what kind of pitcher I am, I think I know right now, but we'll find out if we need to add in a cutter or some other pitch, get that fourth pitch in my arsenal. That would be pretty ideal."
Jefferies lets a grin curl across his lips. That's his version of screaming giggling with glee. The biggest difference between Evans Diamond and the Coliseum, he says, is the size. Like Gray, Jefferies is slight of build, at 6-foot, 180 pounds, but on Tuesday, he stood 10 feet tall.
"There's a lot more seats in the stands," he says. "Just coming to the stadium, being that far away from Oracle, it's a lot to take in. You just have to take a step back and embrace everything. I've had a lot of fun ... I'm in a big league stadium, so there's no complaining."