Thanks to a lighter workload in the closing weeks that cut down on his innings pitched at Texas State, Beloit Snappers right-hander Kyle Finnegan has been able to get 13 starts under his belt right out of the chute as a professional.
Finnegan made 11 of those starts at short-season Vermont, compiling a 3-3 record and 2.70 ERA in 50 innings. He struck-out 35 and walked 12, while allowing 15 earned runs on 43 hits. The 6'2'' right-hander was summoned to Beloit as an extra starter as the squad prepared for the Midwest League playoffs.
The A's sixth-round selection this June, Finnegan has enjoyed his experiences in the New York-Penn and Midwest leagues.
"I got out to Vermont and was a starter, so I really had a great time getting my feet wet as a professional baseball player," Finnegan said. "There's a great staff out there and it was great for me to grow. I had a lot of success there as a starter.
"I got called up to Beloit, so I headed up there almost two weeks ago. I made a start the day after I arrived, so it was kind of crazy settling in and figuring out what's going on. I got the win in my first start and it was a good game all around. The second time I went out and didn't have as much success as I would have liked. But it was a learning experience that I'll take something away from."
The Snappers eliminated Clinton in round one of the MWL playoffs, and manager Ryan Christensen will likely turn to Finnegan to start a second-round game. The first-year skipper says the early reviews are positive where Finnegan is concerned.
"He's got a dynamic arm and good velocity on his fastball, to go along with a decent change-up," Christensen said. "His slider is the main pitch he's looking to improve, and get a little better bite or tilt on that breaking pitch. That will go a long way for him.
"I liked what I saw his first start, but the last start was a little shaky with his command and got hit around a little bit. But I love his athleticism and he reminds me of Tim Hudson on the mound with his build and the way he moves. He's got a bright future."
Finnegan has pitched 7.1 innings across two starts with Beloit, allowing eight earned runs on 12 hits. He struck out four and walked one.
He's prepared to make some adjustments after his last start on September 1st.
"The hitters are more mature," Finnegan said. "Usually they're in their second or third year of professional baseball and have more experience. The hitters are more patient at the plate and have a better understanding. They have the ability to hit mistakes, as well as quality pitches.
"As a pitcher, you have to progress and go out there and attack zone. You're less likely to get into trouble if you're ahead in the count. First-pitch strikes are huge."
The fact Finnegan has been able to be start at all is a positive, as college pitchers often come out of the draft with high workloads and need to be eased into the mix.
"I've enjoyed knowing what day I'm pitching every week," he said. "Finishing my college career as a reliever kept my innings down and allowed me to have a looser grip on my innings in my first year. My everyday routine has allowed me to be extremely prepared for every start that I had. Every fifth day I've been ready to go."
Once Finnegan has wrapped up the playoffs with Beloit, he will move onto the A's instructional league where the focus will be on improving one of his secondary pitches.
He currently throws both two- and four-seam fastballs to go along with a split/change and slider. His fastball usually sits between 92 and 94 MPH.
"My big focal point will be my breaking ball," Finnegan said. "It's a quality pitch, but can be inconsistent at times. I'll be able to harness it a little and get it to where I can throw it for strikes in any count. I'd like to throw it in more situations, as opposed to just throwing it with two strikes or as a strikeout pitch."