NEW YORK — As if reaching the major leagues wasn’t enough, Brandon Finnegan struck out Derek Jeter in his very first inning.
The 21-year-old left-hander became the first player from the 2014 amateur draft to make his big league debut, pitching two perfect innings Saturday in the Kansas City Royals’ 6-2 loss to the New York Yankees.
Selected in the first round from Texas Christian with the 17th pick overall, Finnegan signed for a bonus of $2,200,600.
He relieved with Kansas City trailing 6-1 and retired John Ryan Murphy on a flyout to center with his first pitch, a 92 mph fastball. Finnegan struck out Jacoby Ellsbury on a changeup and Jeter on a 94 mph fastball.
Finnegan was 2 years old when Jeter made his major league debut in 1995.
"That felt awesome," Finnegan said. "Just getting to face him was definitely an honor. Striking him out made the debut a little bit sweeter."
He came back out for the seventh and retired Martin Prado on a flyout, then induced groundouts by Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran. A near-capacity crowd of 45,262 watched the 26-pitch outing.
"I was like, oh wow, did not notice there was that many people there,’" Finnegan said.
Finnegan made just 13 appearances in the minor leagues. He had a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings at Class A Wilmington and a 2.25 ERA in 12 innings at Double-A Northwest Arkansas.
"I thought he was great," Royals manager Ned Yost said. "To strike out Ellsbury, who is tough to strike out — to strike out Jeter, who is tough to strike out — and to get through two innings against a pretty good-hitting club, I thought he was great."