Brandon Finnegan could stabilize Royals’ bullpen as September call-up

08/31/2014 7:12 PM

08/31/2014 8:34 PM

Searching for a dynamic left-handed reliever, the Royals plan on promoting their most recent first-round draft pick in an attempt to shore up the leaky middle portion of their bullpen.

Brandon Finnegan, the No. 17 pick in June, will join the club when rosters expand in September. The team has not yet announced a corresponding maneuver to add him to the 40-man roster. The maneuver comes less than 24 hours after Scott Downs cost the club a game on Saturday and two days after Bruce Chen lost his roster spot due to an ineffective performance.

The Royals have not yet announced a move to add Finnegan to the 40-man roster. In order to be eligible for the playoffs, Finnegan must be added by 11 p.m. on Sunday.

The spot vacated by Chen was not occupied for long. Terrance Gore, a speedy outfielder, filled the void. The team selected his contract and optioned him to Class AA Northwest Arkansas, where he will remain until Tuesday. When the Naturals season ends, Gore will join the Royals along with infielder Christian Colon, pitcher Aaron Crow and pitcher Liam Hendriks.

Another Natural also received a call-up on Sunday. Outfielder Lane Adams will also be moved up. Adams is already on the 40-man roster. He hit .269 in Double A this season with a .779 on-base plus slugging percentage, and can also aid the team as a pinch runner.

Gore figures to become the club’s primary weapon on the bases. That is his calling card. In four minor-league seasons, he has swiped 168 based in 185 attempts, good for an outstanding 91-percent success rate.

The team figures to add a few more players on Monday. Backup catcher Francisco Pena is an obvious candidate. So is lefty reliever Tim Collins. But Finnegan may play the largest role in the club’s September, given his talent and makeup.

A 21-year-old southpaw from Texas Christian University, Finnegan impressed team officials during a relief stint with Class AA Northwest Arkansas, with 13 strikeouts in 12 innings. The organization still views Finnegan as a starter in the future, but for now he will contribute to a playoff race.

Finnegan logged 105 2/3 innings for TCU as a junior on a club that reached the College World Series. After the Royals selected him at No. 17, team officials projected he could throw 45 to 50 innings this season. He has accumulated 27 so far, with a 1.33 ERA and a 6.50 strikeout-to-walk ratio in Class A and Class AA.

Willingham sits out again

Josh Willingham continued to rest his stiff back on Sunday. Manager Ned Yost hopes Willingham will be able to start on Tuesday against Texas left hander Derek Holland.

Zimmer, Manaea headed to instructional league

Two of the Royals’ best pitching prospects will be pitching for the team’s Advanced Instructional League club next month. Both Kyle Zimmer and Sean Manaea will be on the roster, with Class A Wilmington shortstop Raul Mondesi also on the club.

Zimmer, the No. 5 pick in the 2012 draft, missed the first four months of the season due to a strained latisimmus dorsi muscle. He will continue to build up arm strength. The team hopes he can pitch in the Arizona Fall League, followed perhaps by a stint with a winter ball team in the Caribbean.

Manaea has already thrown 121 2/3 innings for Class A Wilmington, posting a 3.11 ERA. He has experienced dominance in the second half, with a 1.45 ERA in his last 11 appearances. Manaea will pitch once a week in stints that last between two and four innings, assistant general manager J.J. Picollo said.

To reach Andy McCullough, call 816-234-4370 or send email to rmccullough@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/McCulloughStar.

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