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11/19/10 5:40 PM EST
Brewers Six-Pack: Jeremy Jeffress
By Adam McCalvy / MLB.com
MILWAUKEE -- The Arizona Fall League's championship game is set for Saturday afternoon, but for Jeremy Jeffress and rest of the Brewers' prospects playing in the prospect-rich showcase, a long baseball season is finally over. Jeffress and the Surprise Rafters went a respectable 17-12 in the AFL's regular season, but finished 2 1/2 games shy of Peoria in the league's west division. Jeffress posted a 3.09 ERA in 10 appearances and made some headlines when he touched 101 mph in the league's Rising Stars Game on Nov. 6. He wasn't the only Brewers farmhand to stand out in the AFL. Right-handers Brandon Kintzler (3.14 ERA, two saves and 15 strikeouts versus two walks) and Mike McClendon (3.38 ERA, 13 strikeouts versus four walks) also finished strong. Right-hander Michael Fiers limited opponents to just 1.02 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched) and struck out 17, second-best among Surprise's starting pitchers in both categories. Lefty Dan Merklinger posted a 3.77 ERA in six starts and one relief appearance. The hitters were led by infielder Eric Farris, who paced the Rafters with a .351 batting average, eighth-best in the league. He also led the team with 16 runs scored. Outfield prospect Logan Schafer batted .323 in limited duty, still slowed by a foot injury, and fellow outfielder Caleb Gindl saw his AFL average drop to .259, but did tie for the team lead with nine walks. First baseman Hunter Morris, the lone 2010 Brewers Draft pick to play in the AFL, batted .242 with a home run and 11 RBIs. For Jeffress, the AFL stint capped a comeback season. He began the year serving the end of a 100-game suspension for marijuana use and continued undergoing counseling. The Brewers were convinced enough by Jeffress' commitment to baseball that they added him to the 40-man roster in June and rewarded with a Major League callup in September. Before he departed for the AFL, Jeffress spoke with MLB.com about his season and his plans for the offseason. It's part of a series of "6-packs" of questions and answers that will continue on Brewers.com all winter.
1. Do you ever step back and think about how far you came in 2010?Jeffress: I came a long ways as far as growing up and mental toughness and staying focused at the task at hand. But I still have a lot to learn, especially in terms of coming up to the big leagues in September and seeing how things go down and how you carry yourself up here. 2. What lessons did you learn in the Majors? Jeffress: You have to listen. You have to take advice from the older guys, watch how they go about their business, in the game, yeah, but off the field, too. That's the biggest thing. 3. The public nature of your fight with drugs, has that been difficult? Jeffress: Definitely. Everybody who has been through this, they can understand. It's been a long road, and then you see people talk about you, people look at you as a different person. I have to prove to them I'm not that type of person. It hurts at times. Some people turned on me. I'm not saying everybody has, but some people looked at me a different way or handled me a different way. Now it's about proving them wrong and proving myself right, that I am the person I know I can be. 4. Have you given any more thought to whether you'll be a starter or a reliever in the future? You've done both in the Minor Leagues. Jeffress: I'm really open to both. I said when I got here that I loved being a reliever because you come to the park knowing that you could throw, every day. I really enjoy that. But if the organization needs a starter and that's what they ask me to do, I'll do it. It really doesn't matter to me, as long as I'm here [in Milwaukee]." 5. What's one part of your offseason that you think people would be surprised about? Jeffress: I'm a golfer. I have a little driving range back home [in South Boston, Va.] that I own, so I go out and hit a lot. My dad built it from the ground up with me and my older brother, Freddie. I go down there a lot during the offseason and help out. I own some land as well. Those are some of the investments I made after signing with the Brewers. My mom wouldn't let me spend it on cars and things like that. 6. What is it about pitchers and golfing? Jeffress: The free time. We have so much free time, and a bunch of us golf. I really love it.