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Spring Game #22: Daulton Jefferies dominates in best outing yet

The fifth starter candidate struck out half his batters

Milwaukee Brewers v Oakland Athletics Photo by Michael Zagaris/Oakland Athletics/Getty Images

The Oakland A’s fifth starter competition isn’t officially decided yet, but one front-runner put on quite a show on Tuesday.

Top prospect Daulton Jefferies threw four scoreless innings in the A’s Cactus League game against the Colorado Rockies, helping Oakland cruise to a 4-1 victory.

*** Click here to revisit today’s Game Thread! ***

The right-hander faced 14 batters and struck out half of them, allowing just two hits along the way. His only real trouble came in the 2nd inning, which began with a leadoff triple. But he then set down the next three hitters in a row to strand the runner, and then another six hitters to breeze through a couple more frames.

“That was huge for my confidence,” said Jefferies of escaping the jam in the 2nd, via Rickey Blog.

Manager Bob Melvin raved about the 25-year-old’s performance, via Athletics Farm:

“Fantastic. Best we’ve seen him probably. Mixed in pitching in very well, had a good changeup, had a good cutter, and had a pretty good curveball today, which is a slower pitch for him. Command was terrific...that’s as good as we’ve seen him throw.”

And catcher Aramis Garcia, himself battling for a roster spot, added more, via Rickey Blog:

“He had every single one of his pitches going. I don’t think he missed a spot today. He was really, really good today.”

Jefferies, spring: 13 ip, 2 runs, 20 Ks, 3 BB, 1 HR, 7 hits

Spring stats aren’t to be trusted, but dang, those are difficult to ignore, and in all the exact ways he’s supposed to be good (like a mammoth K/BB rate).

Hot take: Jefferies has been my pick for the fifth starter spot all along. Nothing has changed. If anything, it’s only more clear now that he’s the right choice. He’s struck out 39% of his batters this spring, for goodness sake. There’s nothing more you can ask for than a top prospect, with great minor league numbers, and positive reviews at last summer’s camp, with virtually perfect spring stats this month.

In the bullpen, the A’s got a scoreless inning from each of Trevor Rosenthal, Jake Diekman, Yusmeiro Petit, and Lou Trivino, which is half of their MLB relief corps. It was Rosenthal’s second outing of the spring after a minor groin pull, and for Diekman it extended his Cactus League record to six scoreless frames with seven Ks and no walks. The only run was allowed by J.B. Wendelken, on a pair of hits.

Pinder keeps rolling

Matt Olson has grabbed the dinger headlines this spring, but Chad Pinder may have passed him as the A’s hottest hitter.

The super-sub, playing shortstop Tuesday because why not, went 2-for-3 to raise his Cactus League OPS to 1.300.

Pinder, spring: 13-for-33 (.394), 3 HR, 1 triple, 2 doubles, 7 BB, 7 Ks

That triple came today, leading off an inning, and then he scored on a sac fly by professional hitter Jed Lowrie. Pinder scored half the A’s runs in this game.

Another hero on offense was Mitch Moreland, who doubled into the gap (off a lefty!) to plate a pair of runs in the 2nd inning.

Seth Brown capped off the scoring later with a solo homer, his second of the spring.

Elsewhere in the lineup, catcher Sean Murphy (pinch-hitting) contributed a double with an exit velocity of 110 mph off the bat, reports Shayna Rubin of the Mercury News. Fellow catcher Garcia, who started the game, doubled but also struck out.

We saw the returns of Ramon Laureano and Stephen Piscotty from injuries, and Laureano wasted no time getting himself on base in his second trip to the plate.

The A’s are looking as good as you can hope with the regular season approaching. There’s a great young pitching prospect earning a spot in the rotation, a top bullpen rounding into form, and a bunch of strong hitters in the lineup. Six more spring games until Opening Day!