Finley Holding His Own

PULASKI, VA - Drew Finley was an absolute stud in high school. In his career, he threw 120.2 innings to the tune of a 16-1 record and a 1.04 ERA. His success brought the attention of Major League scouts and was drafted in the third round of the 2015 MLB Draft by the Yankees. Finley’s first season in professional baseball in Pulaski, however, hasn’t been as easy as it was in high school.

He’s 0-1 in nine starts so far and has a 5.09 ERA in just 23 innings.

“I come from an area with really good high schools with good players,” Finley said. “I dominated in high school with my fastball. I could dominate up or down in the zone, but here, if you make a mistake up, it’s going to be over the fence.”

In fact, he's given up eight home runs already in those nine starts. Despite the struggles, Pulaski Yankees manager Tony Franklin has kept Finley in the rotation.

“He’s given up some home runs, but that’s all because he’s been up in the zone with his fastball, but he certainly has enough arm strength to pitch,” Franklin said. “That’s pretty evident right away. You can’t teach anybody how to throw the ball fast or hard.”

Finley is an interesting prospect. According to Franklin and pitching coach Justin Pope, Finley has great stuff at 19 years old.

“He can throw his curveball for a strike, but that’s not where you want it,” Franklin said. “You want it out of the zone. If it’s in the strike zone, it shouldn’t stay there long. But he has good spin on it, it’s tight, he may have to quicken it a little bit, but he’s got two pretty good pitches to work with.”

Pope said that while Finley has had his struggles, Finley looks very good for a young pitcher.

“He’s a young kid coming in and playing at this level, whereas a lot of high school kids don’t,” Pope said. “They don’t skip [Gulf Coast League] and come to this level. He’s had some bumps and bruises but that’s all a learning curve. If you go out there and deal every time, it’s hard to learn.”

Franklin said that even though he tries to give young pitchers the chance to work out of jams, he has tried to protect Finley from throwing too many pitches and too many innings.

“Don’t let the lack of innings or anything like that fool you, a lot of this is our doing,” Franklin said. “We try to protect them and not let those pitch counts get too high.

“The learning experience is probably the thing that’s going to help you out the most."

Finley’s two main pitches are his fastball and curveball. Finley has been around 90-92 mph lately with his heater, which is slower that what he threw in high school. Finley said he easily reached 94 mph while pitching at Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego. The drop in velocity doesn’t worry Finley or his coaches as it is a common thing for most first-year pitchers.

“I feel good every day,” Finley said.

“As a high school kid, this is a long year for him,” Pope said. “So to see him still throwing 90-92 is a good sign.”

Pope and Franklin said that Finley has a lot of potential due to his work ethic and physical ability.

“He’s a big kid too, so I could see his velocity keep climbing,” Pope said. “He does work hard, so I have no doubt that he could be a top of the rotation kind of guy [eventually].”

“Most kids, whether they are high school or college players, they don’t realize how much goes into preparing after each start and before each start,” Franklin added. “It’s a daily thing. You’ve got to be at your peak performance when out at the pitching mound and it’s no easy task.”

“Honestly, I feel comfortable with everything,” Finley said. “Right now, I’m having some control issues, which isn’t me, but my bullpen and my sides these last couple days have been really good so I should be back on track for my next start.”

Finley said that Pope has helped him with his mental game the most.

“As a high school kid, in a setting like this, I can get frustrated,” Finley said. “But he keeps telling me it’s a process. I’m here to compete and hold my own, which I have been doing; I just can’t get frustrated with my results.”

Finley said he is still adjusting to the professional level.

“Coming in here and competing with college kids and guys who have been in the minors for three or four years, I feel like I’m holding my own,” Finley said. “Each day, I’m just trying to learn something, and do things better.”

“He does a really good job of repeating his delivery and he has a good idea,” Pope said. “There are a couple things we’re working on with his delivery and making those type of adjustments and work on getting the ball down.”

“I think he’s figured out that there is a certain way to pitch certain hitters,” Franklin said. “Every hitter has a place on them where you can go where they aren’t going to hurt you too bad.”

Both Pope and Franklin said that Finley should be in the majors down the road if he can bring it all together.

“I see a major league pitcher here at 19-years-old,” Franklin said. “He possesses good arm strength, he possess a nice curveball.”

“I feel like I’m a couple years out,” Finley said. “I’m just trying to enjoy everything and trust the process. Whether that’s two years, three years, five years, whatever I can do to help the Yankee organization. So when I get up there, I can have a lot of success.”

In the meantime, with less than a month left in the season, Finley said he wants to develop his changeup and work on getting the ball down. He also has another goal in mind too.

“Hopefully I’ll be a factor in our team winning the Appy League,” Finley said. “That’s our goal. We want to win this thing.”

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