With the 17th overall pick the Royals take LHP Brandon Finnegan from Texas Christian University. Finnegan was ranked #18 overall by Baseball America, Kylie McDaniel had him #15 overall, and Keith Law had him at #24 overall.
Finnegan, a junior from Fort Worth, Texas, was 8-3 with a 2.07 ERA in 15 starts with 122 strikeouts and 25 walks in 91.1 innings. He was in the Horned Frogs rotation all three years at TCU, throwing 233 innings over that time. He was originally drafted out of high school by the hometown Texas Rangers in the 45th round.
Finnegan rewarded his coach by running his fastball into the 93-98 mph range, and then became different pitcher when he learned a new slider grip from Rodon. He went from having a below-average breaking ball to a wipeout pitch. Finnegan hasn’t quite had the same power he showed last summer, pitching more in the 90-95 mph range this spring, but his slider has power and late action. He still has his solid-average changeup and much more confidence now with his breaking ball. Scouts also point to improved pitchability as he has settled into the Friday starter routine as well. Finnegan is just 5-foot-11, 184 pounds, and his early departure from an April 25 start and subsequent skipping of a start with a stiff shoulder will raise durability concerns.
Standing under 6', listed at 5'11", 190 LBS, Finnegan wouldn't be as big of a prospect as a righty but he is blessed to be throwing from the left side. He is mature physically and likely won't add any velocity. He has a solid delivery with a ¾ arm slot and long arm action in back but he repeats it fairly well.
His fastball sits 90-95 but I have seen it up to 101 on a TV gun, which I'm sure was a little hot. I've heard reports up to 98. His command has improved since he was a freshman as has his stamina and ability to hold his velocity deeper into games. As a freshman, I thought I was watching a future closer. As a sophomore, he looked like there was a good chance to start and I think that remains.
He throws a 78-82 MPH slurve that has both horizontal and vertical break. It's a slow slider essentially. It's a good pitch but not the swing and miss pitch I'd hope for with a guy with that arm speed. I heard that he improved his slider while pitching for Team USA this summer, pitching with Carlos Rodon. Maybe be learned a new grip or changed his idea on what to do with it because he should be able to throw a great slider with his arm speed and delivery. His change doesn't have a lot of movement but does have a bit of fade and he throws it similarly enough to his fastball and change that it is plays up. It's another average pitch and it allows him to be considered as a starter.
Although his command is erratic sometimes and he can lose his rhythm, when he is on, he can dominate. His consistency improved a lot from his freshman year to his sophomore year. His stuff is that of a #2 or 3 starter with a small chance he could be more than that. There is a chance that he could be a reliever, though too. He could be an impact high leverage reliever. He's short, has an electric arm and good secondaries.
His command needs to improve and his delivery is a bit more complex than I like to see but it adds to his deception. He's kind of a bulldog on the mound and that always makes me like the player a little bit more. There is a good chance he's a starter but he could be a reliever if his command doesn't improve. Overall he looks like a solid #3 or even a #2 starter with a good K rate and mediocre walk rate in the mold of Francisco Liriano. I expect him to be a high pick, maybe as high as the top 10.