Former Brewers first-round Draft pick Jeremy Jeffress, coming off a 100-game drug suspension, was assigned to Class A Wisconsin on Wednesday and will probably spend the rest of this season as a reliever.
Jeffress, a right-hander with a 100 mph fastball and Milwaukee’s first-round pick in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft, had previously been molded as a starting pitcher. He threw two innings Tuesday on the final day of extended Spring Training camp and is expected to make his Timber Rattlers debut on Sunday.
“For probably the duration of this year, he will work out of the bullpen,” assistant general manager Gord Ash said. “It’s a proactive plan to keep him more focused and engaged. He feels, and we agree, that if he’s of the mindset coming into the park every day that he may pitch, he will be more engaged in the process. That’s OK with us.”
Jeffress’ career has been stalled by trouble with marijuana. He was suspended 50 games in 2007 and 100 games last year, a ban that expired last month just after Jeffress developed some forearm discomfort in extended Spring Training. Now he’s ready to pitch, so the Brewers assigned him to their “low” Class A affiliate in Appleton, Wis. about 100 miles north of Miller Park.
Whether Jeffress transitions back to a starter next season remains to be seen.
“We don’t know,” Ash said. “We’ll just have to see how it goes. We’ll take it a step at a time. We’ll see what we have.”