Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
September 1 is finally here, and the Royals have announced the first of their call-ups. 2014 first round pick Brandon Finnegan, along with outfielders Lane Adams and Terrance Gore, will be joining the big league club in Kansas City. Adams was already on the 40-man roster, and Gore took the place of the recently designated-for-assignment Bruce Chen. A corresponding move to add Finnegan has yet to be announced.
Finnegan will be joining a relief corps that has had some difficulties in recent weeks. Outside of Greg Holland, Wade Davis, and Kelvin Herrera, the Royals’ bullpen has been far less than elite, and they desperately need a dependable lefty so Ned Yost isn’t forced to rely upon Scott Downs and Francisley Bueno night after night. Finnegan has been extremely effective in his first professional season, pitching 27 innings with a 1.33 ERA, 8.7 strikeouts per 9 innings, and just 1.3 walks per 9. Some of that production came as a starter, but since moving to the bullpen, he’s still been solid, albeit with a few more hits allowed.
Finnegan’s specialty will be in getting left-handed batters out. He’s faced 33 of them this year, and they have combined for a .283 OPS. That kind of dominance is aided by an excellent slider, which complements an average fastball that sits in the mid-90s. His changeup is still a work in progress, but Finnegan does appear to have the kind of stuff that could help the Royals for the final month of the season.
The player who is likely to have the second-largest impact this month out of this trio is Gore, who will be used in a pinch running role in late-inning situations. In 106 games this season, he has 47 stolen bases, and has only been caught 7 times. Since being promoted to Triple-A Omaha, he’s stolen 11 bases in 17 games. Gore has legitimate 80-grade speed, and anytime he is brought into a game, the Royals will instantly be in scoring position. He’s probably the second or third fastest guy in the major leagues right now, and even higher, if you ask Gore. He has game-changing speed, and will present a very dangerous weapon off the bench.
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With Jarrod Dyson playing more regularly, the Royals haven’t always had an elite pinch runner at their disposal. Now, they do. This is a move that could pay enormous dividends down the stretch.
Adams is certainly no slouch himself, although he may not be as much of a factor in the next few weeks. He has an .804 OPS this season, including a 10.2% walk rate and .168 isolated slugging percentage. He’s also got great speed, even though he’s not quite on Gore’s level. Adams has stolen 38 bases this season and a career stolen base success rate near 85%. Additionally, he can play above average defense all over the outfield, meaning he has some versatility in that regard. But, he also strikes out quite a bit, hasn’t played above the Double-A level, and doesn’t possess any elite home run power.
This isn’t to suggest Adams will provide no value, as I think he is an upgrade over Mike Moustakas against a left-handed pitcher, and he’ll provide even more speed off the bench if extra pinch runners are required. He may not fill an obvious need, but Adams has some talent, and if used appropriately, could be extremely helpful.
More players will surely be coming up to the big leagues in the next few days, namely Christian Colon, Aaron Crow, and Liam Hendriks. All three players must wait for the minor-league season to officially end in order to avoid waiting the requisite 10 days following an option. Others, such as Tim Collins and Francisco Pena, figure to be brought up soon, as well.