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Buhach Colony's Jefferies drafted in third round by Tampa Bay Rays

Jake Jefferies was selected with the 78th overall pick in Thursday's Major League Baseball amateur draft. The former Buhach Colony standout and UC Davis catcher was taken by the Tampa Bay Rays early in the third round -- believed to be the earliest a local player has been drafted.

"When you work your whole life for this -- my goal was always to play pro ball -- it's really exciting when it finally comes true," Jefferies said during a telephone interview from a hotel room in Davis, where he gathered with family.

Jefferies batted over .300 in each of the last two seasons, including .387 with 54 RBIs this past spring, helping the Aggies reach the Stanford Regional in their first season at the Division-I level.

The junior said he will forgo his final season in Davis and sign with the club, officially beginning his big league career.

Jefferies was the first local taken on Thursday, but he might not be the last. Fellow Davis teammate and former Merced star Eddie Gamboa could be selected in the two-day draft, while Buhach Colony pitcher Brett Mooneyham was projected by many to be a Day 1 prospect.

"It's been the best year I could ask for," Jefferies said. "(Davis coach Rex Peters) and the rest of the coaching staff built this program from the ground up. It’s been awesome to be a part of that.

"And for this to happen, man, it's like icing on the cake."