On Monday, Brandon Finnegan stood surrounded by reporters in front of a locker that didn’t bear his name.
James Shields stood to his left; Jason Vargas was on his right.
Finnegan wore a crisp blue Royals jersey (No. 27) and a bright smile.
“It’s crazy,” Finnegan said. “It’s definitely been whirlwind.”
On June 1, Finnegan was part of a TCU baseball team that won an NCAA Regional. He was drafted days later by the Royals and assigned to Class A-Advanced Wilmington.
On Aug. 1, Finnegan made his last appearance with the Blue Rocks before being promoted to Class AA Northwest Arkansas. One month later, Finnegan was added to the Royals’ 40-man roster and joined a team in the middle of pennant race.
Any butterflies, Brandon?
“Yeah,” Finnegan said. “These are big-name guys: James Shields, Vargas, Wade Davis. It’s unreal. It’s definitely something I’m going to have to take in and hopefully get a good experience out of it.”
Finnegan, who is a 5-foot-11, 185 pound left-hander, had few troubles in the minors. He had a 0.60 ERA in 15 innings at Wilmington and 2.25 ERA in 12 innings with Northwest Arkansas.
He was so dominant that the Royals asked him to focus on throwing sliders to left-handers and change-ups to right-handers in his last two appearances in the minors.
The Royals were impressed. And now, less than five months after beating Kansas in Lawrence in a Big 12 game, Finnegan is in the majors.
Although Finnegan was used mostly as a starter in college, he will be working out of the bullpen this month. He is the first Royals’ draft pick to join the team in the same year he was drafted since lefty Jeff Granger in 1993.
“We’re going to ease him in his first time or two and see how he does,” Royals manager Ned Yost said. “All the reports that we got were this kid can help us. Do I have a plan on how I’m going to use him? We’re just going to do it as we go.
“He’s got good stuff, is real competitive on the mound and he throws strikes. You go into the last month and, at least from my standpoint, you’re always looking to go with the hot hand and we’ll see what comes of it.”