Jefferson making improvements with Power

Whether making a relief appearance or getting the nod as a starter, left-handed Power pitcher Mike Jefferson has had his fair share of ups and downs this season.

The 22nd-round pick of the 2011 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates has been roughed up by oppositions and has shown glimpses of success.

Recently, though, the latter of the two has been flashed for West Virginia.

"I've really stepped up my work ethic, as far as getting to the park early and getting my dry mechanics work on the mound in," Jefferson said. "I just needed to do that and it's really been paying off."

The 23-year old from Batavia, Ohio has made 28 appearances in 2012, with 17 of those coming out of the bullpen and 11 as a starter.

No matter the situation, Jefferson admits he is at his best when he is able to effectively change speeds and location.

"For me, if I try too hard, that's when the ball gets up and I get hurt a lot. For the past five or six outings, I've been able to go out, relax and enjoy the game," Jefferson said. "The control of my fastball has been the reason for some rough outings. When I'm not able to work both sides of the plate and mix speeds, I find myself behind in the count and struggling out there."

Jefferson attended Louisiana Tech University for two seasons, where he also split time between the bullpen and in a starter's role.

But, it was at Louisiana Tech where Jefferson established his go-to pitch.

"The pitch that's been the most effective for me since back in college has been my changeup," he said. "When I can locate my fastball, then let my changeup work, I can be pretty effective."

Jefferson is currently 5-7 on the season with a 4.97 ERA. But is 3-2 with a 3.62 ERA in his last 10 appearances. Those numbers might have been even better if not for his start on August 15, when he was roughed up for six runs in 4.2 innings. But he followed that up with a solid start on August 20, when he tossed six innings for the win, allowing just one run on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts. Despite the recent improvements, he still knows that must get better as the season continues.

"My consistency needs to improve. I need to be able to go out there every day and be constantly good," Jefferson said. "I want the team to be able to look at me and know what they're going to get from me on the mound. And, that needs to be consistent outings."

As far as the situation in which he appears, Jefferson has no preference.

"Whether it's starting or coming out of the bullpen, both have their advantages and disadvantages. I like both of them," he said. "It doesn't really matter to me if I'm out of the pen or starting. I like starting a lot because that generally means I'm going to throw more innings."

Much like Jefferson, the Power have also shown vast improvements recently. The team is currently tied for first place in the Northern Division and is a completely different unit in the second half.

What's been the difference?

"It's been the focus in our pregame and our concentration. Our effort level has picked up and we practice at game speed," Jefferson said. "It didn't turn around right away for us. But I think having those few days to hit the reset button during the All-Star Break really helped us. And that applies to me too from an individual perspective, too."

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