CINCINNATI -- The Brewers' top pitching prospect just got a promotion. Jeremy Jeffress, a hard-throwing right-hander and Milwaukee's first-round Draft pick in 2006, was bumped up to Double-A Huntsville on Wednesday. The promotion came a day after Jeffress pitched six shutout innings and allowed one hit in a win for Class A Brevard County. The Brewers plan to send Jeffress to the Arizona Fall League, and promoting him at this time expands their options for other choices later. Each organization can send only one player to the prestigious AFL who was not at least on a Double-A roster by Aug. 6. "We want to keep our options open with the A-ball exception," said assistant general manager Gord Ash. "Plus, [Jeffress] deserves it." In his 15 appearances for Brevard County, Jeffress was 4-6 with a 4.08 ERA, but that includes one poor appearance in relief on July 6 in which he surrendered five earned runs in five innings. In his 14 starts, Jeffress was 4-5 with a 3.75 ERA. Overall, Jeffress notched 102 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings this season versus 41 walks. He allowed three or fewer earned runs in each of his past eight starts, a stretch that includes two scoreless appearances. One of them came Wednesday night, when Charlie Fermaint led off the game with a home run and Taylor Green added a two-run shot in the third inning to back Jeffress and two relievers. Jeffress struck out only two and walked five. "He had unusually poor command last night," said Ash, who has seen Jeffress pitch in person this season. "Usually, he has very good command. He throws hard with a good breaking ball and has a 'feel' for pitching. He just needs experience. "I think now it's just about learning how to put his total game together. Some games, he has excellent fastballs and not much of a breaking ball. There are games he has an excellent breaking ball and his fastball command is off. Experience will help in putting that all together." Jeffress does not turn 21 until Sept. 21, making him Huntsville's youngest player. Right-hander Alexandre Periard, who notched a win for the Stars on Tuesday, turned 21 in June.
The organization has also been impressed by Jeffress' off-the-field actions this season, Ash said. Jeffress did not make his first start this season until May 15 because he drew a 50-game suspension late last season after testing positive for a "drug of abuse." Privacy rules prevent the Brewers from revealing details, but it is known throughout the organization that Jeffress did not pass several tests because of marijuana use.Jeffress took part in counseling through the Brewers' Employee Assistance Program. "He has worked hard to stay the course," Ash said. "It seems to be going fine. There haven't been any major hiccups at all. He was challenged to adhere to requirements that baseball expects, and he has done that." With Jeffress in the fold, Huntsville manager Don Money has one extra starting pitcher. The Brewers plan to further shuffle their Minor League rosters in the coming days to alleviate that logjam. The team also promoted two 2008 Draft picks. Outfielder Cutter Dykstra, one of the Brewers' two second-round picks, was moved from the entry-level Arizona Brewers to Rookie Helena. He took the spot vacated by power-hitting outfielder Mike Vass, the team's 35th round selection, who was bumped from Rookie Helena to Class A West Virginia after hitting .242 with seven home runs and 28 RBIs in 43 games in the Pioneer League. In a separate move, the Brewers activated left-hander Derrick Miller from the Double-A disabled list and sent him to Brevard County. He'll stay there "until he shows that he's healthy," Ash said.
Adam McCalvy is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues or its clubs.