KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Left-hander Brandon Finnegan, the Royals’ first-round pick this year, isn’t exactly expecting a long stay in the minor leagues.
In fact, Finnegan boldly believes he could pitch in the big leagues right now.
"I have confidence in myself," Finnegan said.
That may be true, but the Royals will take the sensible route anyway, sending Finnegan this week to advanced-A ball in Wilmington, Del., where he is expected to throw somewhere around 40-50 innings this summer.
"We’ll monitor it week to week, month to month," general manager Dayton Moore said of Finnegan’s innings limit this year. "He’s had a tremendous year. … He’s pitched a lot this spring so we’ll evaluate it."
Finnegan, 21, isn’t so sure, however, that he’ll even stay at Wilmington the whole summer. His goal?
"Make it as high as I possibly can," he said, smiling.
That is the competitive nature inside Finnegan speaking, a trait almost every scout brings up immediately when evaluating his skill set.
"A lot of people say I’m like C.J. Wilson or Derek Holland," he said. "I would like to think that I am. I’m a big fan of David Price, too. He’s a bulldog on the mound. That’s how I take it when I’m on the mound.
"Now, I’m not 6-4. I’m only 5-11. But I feel like I’ve got the stuff that’s good enough to pitch in the (bigs) right now."
It’s unlikely many shared that belief just last season when Finnegan went winless as a sophomore for TCU.
Asked to explain how he went from that season to a first-round pick this year, Finnegan laughed and said, "We failed a lot that year. We couldn’t hit so if we gave up one or two runs, we were (going to lose)."
Now, however, Finnegan is certain he has the tools to make it far.
"This year my out pitch was definitely my slider," Finnegan said. "I didn’t give up very many hits on it. That’s what I use in a two-strike count. I can put people away with my fastball, too. If I wanted a quick out, I could just throw a changeup, and they’d roll over to third base.
"So all three of them worked for out pitches this year."
Now we’ll see if they are all out pitches at a much higher level.