Royals sign their top Draft selection Finnegan
Left-hander set to begin professional career at Class A Advanced Wilmington
KANSAS CITY -- Just minutes into Brandon Finnegan's first press conference as an official member of the Royals on Saturday, it became evident why the organization thought fondly enough of him to dole out a $2,200,600 signing bonus.
Finnegan radiated confidence on the podium, where he was wedged between general manager Dayton Moore and director of scouting Lonnie Goldberg, two men instrumental in selecting him 17th overall in the first round of the First-Year Player Draft earlier this month.
Finnegan's bonus figure is the full allotment for the 17th pick. The 21-year-old left-hander will begin his career at Class A Advanced Wilmington.
"It's a very exciting day for us in this organization, bringing Brandon and his family into our family," Goldberg said.
Finnegan flashed his bright smile, declared his stuff Major-League ready and compared himself to big league pitchers C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland and even David Price.
Goldberg described the Royals' first contact with Finnegan, perfect insight into their first-rounder's mindset: "I got a phone call from Chad Lee and Greg Miller, both first-time scouts with us, and they had just met with Brandon, and I remember one of the comments was, 'He thinks he can pitch in the big leagues right now.'"
With Virginia outfielder Brandon Downes, a seventh-round pick, signing as well on Saturday, the Royals have agreed to contracts with their first 20 picks. Downes faced Finnegan in the College World Series, finishing 1-for-2 with a walk against the lefty.
Finnegan will fly out to Wilmington on Monday, and Goldberg predicted it will be 10-to-14 days before he's ready to pitch.
"Obviously, we want to get him going as soon as we can," Moore said.
Finnegan was joined in Kansas City by his parents, brother and agent. He slipped into a white Royals jersey and royal blue cap at the start of the media session.
"A lot of people say I'm like C.J. Wilson, or Derek Holland, and I like to think I am," Finnegan said. "I'm a big fan of David Price, too. I feel like he's a bulldog on the mound, that's how I take it when I'm on the mound. I'm not 6-foot-4, I'm only 5-foot-11, but I feel like I've got stuff that's good enough to pitch in the pros right now."
Moore preferred to take a more gradual approach with the lefty's development, saying the organization plans to "monitor it week to week, month to month."
However, the GM couldn't deny Finnegan's Major League-ready arsenal.
"He certainly has the stuff to get Major League hitters out," Moore said.
Finnegan's three years of experience pitching for one of the premier college baseball programs made him an attractive target for Kansas City.
He posted a 2.04 ERA, with 134 strikeouts in 105 2/3 innings in his junior season for Texas Christian University, which qualified for the Division I College World Series.
Finnegan, the 15th ranked prospect in MLB.com's pre-draft Top 200, pitched one game in TCU's trip to the World Series. He held Virginia to two runs (one earned) in eight innings, but the Cavaliers broke a 2-2 tie in the 15th for a 3-2 win.
The breakout junior season followed a winless sophomore year for Finnegan, despite his 3.18 ERA.
"Sophomore year, our team kind of failed as a whole honestly. [We] couldn't hit, if we gave up more than two runs we were losing," Finnegan said. "The juniors got together after last year and kind of had a conversation with coach [Jim] Schlossnagle and told him what we thought needed to be done, and after that, we kind of took off from there."
Jackson Alexander is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.