What Should the Royals Do With Brandon Finnegan?


September, and potentially October, can be a great time for a prospect to make a lasting impression on an organization. Players like David Price and Adam Wainwright managed to use their September callups, and subsequent postseason runs, to go forth and put together an excellent career. Sometimes, having that initial success on the biggest stage can truly start a career on the right foot. That is the place that Brandon Finnegan finds himself right now.

The problem is, unlike with Price and Wainwright, Finnegan does not have a set spot on the Royals. A starter in college, Finnegan worked exclusively in the bullpen upon making his professional debut. He proved to be an excellent reliever, storming through the minors and posting a combined 1.33 ERA and a 0.889 WHiP, striking out 26 batters in 27 innings. In the majors, he continued to dazzle, allowing one run while striking out ten in seven innings.

For a while, it seemed as though Brandon Finnegan would have a chance to compete for the final spot in the Royals rotation. Instead, the Royals went out and signed Edinson Volquez and Kris Medlen, not only shutting the door for this season, but potentially for next year as well. Should Medlen come back healthy, the Royals rotation may well be set until after the 2016 season.

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  • That would appear to leave the bullpen as the only option for Finnegan, should the Royals be inclined to keep him on the major league roster. They certainly could use a strikeout throwing lefty reliever, and he performed quite well in that role in September. However, do the Royals truly want to keep a pitcher who was selected with the 17th overall pick last year in the bullpen before seeing if he can become a starter?

    That leads to the third, and potentially most likely, option – that Brandon Finnegan would start the 2015 season in the minor leagues. Chances are, Finnegan would find himself back with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, seeking to develop into a starting pitcher for the Royals in the next couple of years. If he failed, then there is always the option of putting Finnegan back into the bullpen, a place where he has already had success.

    It may well be that the Royals themselves do not quite know what they have in Finnegan, and may spend a part of Spring Training attempting to find out. Would he be more valuable to the 2015 Royals, and for future teams, as a lefty reliever? Or would it be more worth their time to find out if Finnegan can, in fact, be a solid starter for them going forward?

    Personally, I think the Royals may be better off keeping Brandon Finnegan in the bullpen. Tim Collins did not inspire confidence last season, and is not a given to perform well. Having Finnegan in the bullpen would give the Royals another option should Collins falter, and help make what is already a strength that much deeper.

    The Royals still have time to figure out what to do with Brandon Finnegan. It is certainly going to be interesting to see what they determine should be his role going forward.