Moffat County’s Jefferson Piatt called up to national baseball programs
CRAIG — Even when things haven’t gone his way in life, Jefferson Piatt keeps battling back, a trait that, when combined with innate athletic talent, helped catch the eye of organizers for a baseball event that could help the Craig teenager take his game to the next level.
Jefferson was selected in May for the Under Armour 18 and under team through Baseball Factory, which includes being invited to the Omaha National World Series at the end of June. More recently, he was also picked as one of 26 players in the Western Region to participate in a college showcase in Arlington, Virginia, in late August.
A tryout at Metropolitan State University in Denver earlier this month saw him hit one over the center field fence, and besides being a heavy hitter for the Moffat County High School varsity team this spring — his junior year — he was also a multiple threat in the Bulldog infield, alternating between third base and the mound.
“It’s about learning a lot more, getting some experience and meeting with experienced people and coaches,” he said. “I definitely want to move on to the next and go to a good college.”
One program he has set his sights on is the University of Arizona, partly because of the warm weather, but more so for what it could offer him personally.
“I think they could really help me with my disability,” he said.
Jefferson was diagnosed at birth with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, as well as a hole in his heart, results of substance abuse by his birth mother, which led to him being adopted at seven months old. The condition can cause an array of mental impairments, such as memory and attention disorders.
Nevertheless, he has been able to thrive, physically, also competing in football, basketball and wrestling at MCHS, including going to state in the latter.
Still, it’s the ball diamond that is his second home.
His adoptive mother, Valerie, noted that one of the recruiters during Jefferson’s tryout had seen “MC” on his shirt and was uncertain of the school.
“Everyone kept telling him it was the Western Slope, and he had no concept of what that was,” she said. “He said, ‘I know where Steamboat is, but that’s in the middle of nowhere.’ So we said we’re 40 minutes west of the middle of nowhere.”
Valerie said it’s crucial for players to become a big name among top-tier organizations.
“He was saying exposure is the key to getting out there and getting good offers, because if you have (NCAA) Division I skills like Jefferson does, that’s great, but no one’s going to see you (in Craig),” she said. “That’s why making these two teams is phenomenal.”
The cost of attending the two programs, including travel across the country, is not cheap, but Valerie has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money needed, pulling together about $3,000 of the $7,000 goal as of Friday.
“It’s gonna be hard, and normally our summer is quite structured, but we’re going to be able to do it,” she said. “I have faith our community is going to support him, and he is going to make Moffat County proud.”
Jefferson has also been part of an American Legion team in Steamboat this summer and worked as an assistant coach for the Moffat Limestone team with Craig Parks and Recreation’s youth baseball team.
Helping younger athletes in build skills in the sport is important to him, as he sees them improve in batting, throwing and fielding.
“They’re learning a lot, and hopefully, they can move on to the bigger leagues,” he said.
Valerie recalled a pep talk he gave a player that made a huge difference.
“He was getting down on himself, and Jeff told him, ‘I started out just like you, and this is your first season, and look how good you’ve gotten,'” she said. “That kid was so happy when he left.”
She added that, though FAS has many negative impacts, there are other ways her son’s different mindframe can be a positive.
“He sees kids for who they are, and he knows what to say and how to reach them, and I think that’s just amazing,” she said.
For more information about supporting Jefferson Piatt, visit gofundme.com/help-jefferson-play-ball.
9:02 a.m. On the 1000 block of Sage Court, community services personnel in Craig responded to a code enforcement call. A resident was issued a verbal warning for a code violation.