TURLOCK -- Jake Jefferies has his hands full playing for for the Jacksonville Suns, the Miami Marlins' Double-A affiliate, but he's never too busy to call his li'l brother, Daulton.
"We're a tight family, so he calls to see how I'm doing. He checks my grades, too, and he lets me know if he thinks I'm sliding," said Daulton Jefferies, a junior at Buhach Colony. "Jake wants me to always work hard, so he pushes me."
Not that Daulton isn't pushing himself every day, whether pitching, scooping grounders or swinging his bat. That doesn't take into account his work ethic in the classroom.
"My family, like Jake, is always pushing academics first and athletics second," Daulton said. "Hard work will put me in a position to succeed."
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His willingness to put in extra time led to Daulton's decision to make a verbal commitment to play baseball at Stanford University. The school's academic reputation was one of the attractions for Daulton.
"It's not just the baseball, or just the degree, but Stanford has a great community and it will help me throughout the rest of my life," said Daulton, who can't sign his letter of intent until next school year.
He carries a 3.87 GPA, with Advanced Placement chemistry, English and U.S. history courses. That academic foundation, and his baseball skill, convinced Stanford to make its early scholarship offer.
His fastball tops 90 miles an hour on a good day, though it usually is in the mid 80s. The 5-foot-11, 155-pounder can put on weight, which could lead to more power on the mound.That he has a changeup and a curve, slower pitches intended to deceive anxious hitters, only improves the fastball.
Daulton fanned 12, giving up a run and four hits, in 62/3 innings at Turlock on Tuesday. He had a one-hitter, with the minimum 21 batters, in a 2-0 win at Atwater a week ago.
It's why he's 4-0 with a 0.58 ERA, impressive stats for any hurler, but what Stanford noticed early was his accuracy.Daulton has 65 strikeouts in 35 innings, and just six walks -- and foes are batting .164.
He also plays third for Buhach, but can shift to shortstop and could play second in college, and is batting .329. That is down from last year's .397, but Buhach has played a monstrous schedule this spring.
Daulton was at third Thursday and could little as Pitman drilled Buhach 9-1 to tighten the Central California Conference race. Buhach (17-7, 8-4) is battling Merced (15-9, 9-3), Pitman (17-6, 7-5) and Turlock (11-11, 6-6) with just three conference games remaining.
Daulton expects to back on the mound Tuesday when Buhach hosts Merced in a game that could decide the crown.
The pitching part of Daulton's bloodline isn't from Jake or dad John, a prominent football player during his days at Merced High. Uncle Blas Minor, an Atwater grad, pitched at Arizona State and with the Pittsburgh Pirates in his day.
That diversity, though, has made Daulton a quality two-way prospect. That versatility, Buhach coach Greg Wakefield noted, is very attractive.
"If he can pitch and play the field, it's a great asset as a college player. It gives you choices," Wakefield said. "We saw Daulton was ready for the varsity as a freshman, so we had him play third base for us."
He batted .221 that first season, just 15 hits in 23 games, but Wakefield didn't waver.
"The .221 didn't mean much to us, because Daulton was doing everything else," he said. "Baserunning, his throws, he had soft hands, an excellent bunter. He hit No. 2 and took pitches so Kert Woods had an opportunity to steal bases."
Woods, another of the stars on this team, has signed a letter of intent with Santa Clara.
They're the latest in a long line of Buhach stars destined to play in college. Jake Jefferies and the Floros, Brock and Dylan, are among the others.
Was there a doubt Daulton would be on that list? His parents clearly had an inkling because his first name is in honor of Darren Daulton -- the Philadelphia Phillies' heavy-hitting catcher in the 1990s.