Brandon Finnegan

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Brandon Kyle Finnegan

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Biographical Information[edit]

When he made his major league debut with the Kansas City Royals on September 6, 2014, Brandon Finnegan became the first player from the 2014 amateur draft to play in the major leagues.

Finnegan was first drafted out of a high school in Fort Worth, TX in the 45th round of the 2011 amateur draft, by the Texas Rangers, but chose to go to college instead. After pitching in the 2014 College World Series, he was the 17th overall pick of the 2014 draft, out of Texas Christian University, by the Kansas City Royals and scout Chad Lee. He signed for a bonus of $2.2 million. He was rushed to the major leagues, making his debut after only 13 appearances in the minors. He made 5 starts for the Wilmington Blue Rocks where he went 0-1, 0.60, pitching 15 innings. He was then promoted to the Northwest Arkansas Naturals of the AA Texas League where he was 0-3, 2.25 in 8 relief appearances, pitching another 12 innings.

The work in the bullpen was in preparation for helping the Royals during the pennant race, as he was added to the roster at the beginning of September. He made his first appearance on September 6th when he pitched two perfect innings of relief against the New York Yankees in a game in which starter Danny Duffy had to leave after throwing only one pitch, putting a lot of strain on the bullpen. One of his two strikeout victims was Derek Jeter, in the last month of a brilliant major league career, following Jacoby Ellsbury who was the first to fall under his pitches. He made 7 appearances for the Royals that September, going 0-1, 1.29, allowing only 6 hits and a walk in 7 innings while striking out 10. Added to the postseason roster, he made a clutch relief appearance in the Wild Card Game against the Oakland Athletics giving up a run in 2 1/3 innings to keep the Royals in the game, which they eventually won in extra innings. He was the winner in Game 2 of the ALDS against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on October 3rd, pitching a scoreless 10th inning before Kansas City scored 3 runs in the top of the 11th. Things a little bit more difficult in the ALCS against the Baltimore Orioles as retired only one of the five men he faced in Games 1 and 2 and was charged with a run, but the Royals swept the series to set up a meeting with the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series. When he was called upon to pitch in a tight situation in Game 3 on October 24th, he became the first man to pitch in a World Series and a College World Series the same year. In that game, he came in with one on and one out in the 7th, with the Royals ahead, 3-2, and showing tremendous poise, got pinch-hitter Juan Perez to fly out and struck out Brandon Crawford on a nasty slider on a full count to end the inning and hand the ball to late game specialists Wade Davis and Greg Holland, who nailed down the win. However, he had a nightmarish game the next night: coming in with the score tied 4-4 in the 6th, he allowed three runs after two outs, then let the first two batters he faced in the 7th reach base, and they both scored, saddling him with the 11-4 loss.

In 2015, the Royals decided to send him to the minor leagues out of spring training, as they considered that his future role with the team was as a starting pitcher, and that he needed to get some work in in the minors before being able to contribute as a starter in the big leagues. He pitched 11 times between Northwest Arkansas and the AAA Omaha Storm Chasers, including 7 starts, with a combined record of 0-3, 5.00. His ERA was a solid 2.77 in AA but shot up to 7.00 in 14 innings of AAA ball. However, the Royals three times needed his services to help out in the bullpen during the first half, once in late April, again in late May, and a third time starting in mid-June, breaking any momentum he could have built up as a starter in the minors. He went 3-0 with a 2.96 ERA in 14 games in Kansas City, with 21 strikeouts in 23 1/3 innings, explaining why thew team found it hard to keep him down on the farm even if it may have been in his own best long term interest. The issue became moot on July 26th, however, as he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds as the most advanced of three pitching prospects used to obtain ace Johnny Cueto; joining him were John Lamb and Cody Reed. He made his first major league start on September 18th, leading the Reds to a 5-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers; he allowed one run in five innings. he ended up making four starts in six outing for the Reds, going 2-2, 4.18, to give him a combined mark of 5-2, 3.56 on the year.

Finnegan earned a spot in the starting rotation of a rebuilding Reds team at the start of the 2016 season. In his second start of the year, on April 11th, he no-hit the Chicago Cubs until the 7th inning before giving up a two-out single to David Ross. He left immediately afterwards, with a 3-0 lead but two runners on base; however, his bullpen was unable to close out the win: both runners came in to score before the last out was recorded in the 7th, and the Cubs scored three more in the 8th to come out with a 5-3 win. He made 31 starts for the Reds and ended up at 10-11, 3.98, a solid result given the Reds finished well below .500 and he was putting in his first full season in the majors. He pitched 172 innings, allowing only 150 hits although he did walk 84 batters. He continued to post a solid strikeout rate, with 145. He then started 2017 with an excellent performance, beating the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-0, on April 5th, allowing only one single in 7 innings and retiring 19 consecutive batters at one point and fanning 9 batters. Unfortunately, he was placed on the disabled list with a strained left shoulder on April 16th. He came back on June 26th but lasted only 3 innings, giving up 3 runs and being charged with an 8-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals before heading back on the DL. He then suffered an injury to his non-throwing shoulder on July 7th when he fell off a boat while trying to jump on to a dock. That second injury just confirmed that he would not be able to pitch again that year.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Joe Lemire: "MLB draft: Lefty pitchers often in a rush to reach big leagues", USA Today Sports, June 8, 2015. [1]

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