Once-hot KC Royals hurler is almost back where it all began
For several seasons now, baseball hasn't been as kind to Brandon Finnegan as it was in 2014. Almost nine full years have passed since he was striking out the likes of big league stars Derek Jeter, David Ortiz, and Yoenis Céspedes less than three months after throwing his last collegiate pitches for Texas Christian in the 2014 College World Series.
It was a whirlwind summer and early fall for the uber-talented lefthander the Royals snapped up in the first round of that year's amateur draft—preserving his college eligibility, Finnegan waited until after the CWS ended to sign, then pitched just 13 times in the minors before Kansas City called him up to the big leagues. He pitched so well (0-1 with a 1.29 ERA in seven September appearances) that he made each of the club's postseason rosters.
Memorable among his first major league moments were the 2.1-inning effort he gave the Royals in their electrifying extra-inning Wild Card victory over Oakland, the first of eight straight postseason wins that propelled them into their first World Series since 1985, his victory over Baltimore in the American League Division Series, and pitching twice in the World Series.
Kansas City lost that Fall Classic to the Giants, and 2015 found Finnegan back in the minors working on transitioning from reliever to starter. He made it back to Kansas City but, because the club so coveted Cincinnati's Johnny Cueto for a playoff run, soon departed for the Reds as part of the trade that brought Cueto to KC.
Finnegan hasn't relived the magic of his 2014 season since. Instead, he's bounced back and forth between the majors and minors and struggled to a 13-17, 4.32 record with the Reds, for whom he last pitched in 2018. He caught on with the White Sox two winters ago but never made it back to the big leagues.
But now, it looks like he'll be pitching this summer close to where it all began back in 2014.
Former KC Royals pitcher Brandon Finnegan is joining the Kansas City Monarchs
Beginning next month, Finnegan, now 30, will ply his trade just across the state line and down I-70 from Kauffman Stadium in Piper, Kansas, home of the American Association Kansas City Monarchs:
The Monarchs open their season May 12 on the road against Sioux City, then host Sioux Falls May 19 in their home opener. The club plays its home games at Legends Field, 1800 Village West Parkway.
However long it lasts, whether Finnegan's time with the Monarchs puts him back on the road to the majors remains to be seen. He last appeared in The Show in 2018 and is 8-25, 5.55 in 147 minor league appearances (36 starts); the 4-3 he posted at Triple-A Louisville in 2021 remains his only winning minor league season, but it was tainted by his 5.53 ERA.
Finnegan clearly has a long way to go if he's planning on pitching in the majors again. Perhaps he'll get a good start with the Monarchs.