Because the Kansas City Royals didn’t absolutely suck at everything last year, the were sullied with the 17th pick in this year’s draft. And with that pick, they selected left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan from TCU. Finnegan—a diminutive man who was busy majoring in criminal justice before this baseball thing got real—is a polished college arm with a fastball that can reach the high-90’s, above average off-speed stuff, and a recent history of shoulder inflammation.
So forgive me if I didn’t piss my pants in jubilance.
Couple the injury with the fact that I have absolutely zero faith in Dayton Moore’s draft picks, and it was mostly a gigantic yawn. This organization’s player development failures have conditioned me to not care; such is the life of a Kansas City Royals’ fan.
At best, and despite of his size (5’11”, 185lbs), Finnegan becomes a front-of-the-rotation starter who will lead the staff for many years to come. Somewhere between “at best” and “worst case scenario” he’s Greg Holland, an undersized, electric closer. (But still just a closer.) At worst—and given that we’re dealing with the sorriest club in any professional sport—he’s Luke Hochevar 2.0.
You remember Luke Hochevar, right? Drafted twice by the Los Angeles Dodgers and then once by the Royals with the first overall pick in 2006? Absolute and utter failure as a starting pitcher? Found great success as an eighth inning setup guy before his elbow blew up and he became yet another depressing footnote in KC baseball history? Yeah, that guy,
He’s the quintessential embodiment of a Royals’ first round draft pick. And while he wasn’t quite Moore’s pick—he was selected like, a week after Moore officially got the general manager job, in the middle of a weird sort of purgatory—Moore hasn’t exactly done tremendous things since being fully ensconced.
In 2007, he selected high school shortstop Mike Moustakas. “Moose,” as he is affectionately known, was purported to have the kind of power that could take out stadium lighting; he’s hitting .148 and was just recalled from Omaha.
The year after, he took Eric Hosmer. To say that Hosmer has been a bust is absolutely incorrect—“busts” don’t win Gold Gloves—but to say that he hasn’t been a disappointment offensively would be a lie. Though he can hit a double with the best of them, he also swings at pitches that would make Vlad Guerrero laugh. (But the thing is, Guerrero would actually make contact with those pitches; Hosmer does not.)
With a supplemental pick in that same year’s draft, he took pitcher Mike Montgomery who turned out to be a big goddamned disappointment and was eventually included in the Wil Myers/James Shields Swap of 2012. He currently spends his days starting for the Durham Bulls where he’s 6-1 with a 3.71 ERA. He’s also 24 years old and quickly growing out of his “prospect” title. Godspeed, Mike.
In 2009, Moore shocked the world (in a bad way) by selecting Christian Colon, a college SS who will never be a contributing member of the big league club, ever. In doing so, he passed up notable pitchers Matt Harvey and Chris Sale. To date, this is easily Moore’s worst draft selection. There’s still a chance, however, that 2010’s first round pick could end up being more of a disappointment.
If you’ll recall, Bubba Starling famously turned down the chance to quarterback the Nebraska Cornhuskers in order to sign with KC. Starling has been so ridiculously disappointing that the Kansas City Star recently ran a piece about his eight-game hitting streak.
Worthy of a story.
Never a good sign.
It’s still too early to declare success or failure on Kyle Zimmer (2012), Hunter Dozier (2013) and Sean Manaea (suppl. 2013), but Zimmer has been plagued by health concerns, Dozier was a stretch to begin with and Manaea (pictured right)—who could be better than everyone else I’ve talked about in this story—only fell to them to begin with due to a serious hip injury.
Look, it’s very possible that Finnegan could be a very valuable asset to this team, and soon. Given the regime’s predilection for picking below-average players, however, I’m not holding my breath.