Name: Drew Finley
DOB: July 10, 1996
Repertoire. Fastball, Curveball, Changeup.
Fastball. Finley, never really healthy for an extended period of time in 2016, still had a tick above average big league fastball, sitting mostly in the 90-93 mph range. That's where he usually sits velocity-wise but a number of scouts expect those radar gun readings to jump up at some point down the road once he remains healthy and continues to learn the nuances of maximizing his delivery, especially given his still very projectable 6-foot-3, 200-pound frame. It's usually in the second year of professional baseball for high school draftees to pick up velocity after they've gained some experience on the mound, physically matured more, and optimized using their legs into their deliveries. Should that velocity spike come, given his solid command that should only improve too with more experience, there's a chance Finley's fastball could develop into an above average or better offering when it's all said and done.
Other Pitches. What makes Finley's long-term projection so intriguing at a very young age is just how advanced his already big league curveball already is. Sitting in the high-70s with room to gain even a few more ticks, it has impressive 12 to 6 downward movement. It's a true swing and miss pitch and he can throw it for strikes already, making it an above average pitch with long-term plus ceiling should he gain better command of it within the zone and if he could add a bit more power to it in the coming years. Where Finley's progress has stalled more with the missed mound time is the further development of what should eventually be an average or better big league changeup. He just hasn't thrown it enough yet but it does show the requisite fade, depth, and arm speed to make it a very solid offering someday. Aside from staying healthy it's the top priority in his development and some team insiders believe the changuep has the chance to be on-par with his curveball, it has that much ceiling.
Pitching. Finley isn't just a projectable 'stuff' guy, he's a guy with a real advanced feel for pitching at a very young age and it's a major reason the former third round pick is already rather highly regarded despite his lack of experience. Not exactly a command pitcher yet, what he does have is a real ability to throw a ton of strikes with three pitches that flash or have big league average potential right now and very much in chess-like fashion he knows how to throw purpose pitches earlier in counts to set up batters later in at-bats. Growing up in a baseball family [his father is a team official and scout for the Los Angeles Dodgers], he has a very high baseball IQ, he boasts one of the better work ethics around, and overall has off-the-charts makeup, including a rare mature confidence for somebody so young. Considering his incredible intangibles, few question his ability to develop into a command pitcher down the road.
Projection. Some big-time caveats should be considered when projecting Finley, most notably that his long-term projection could change rather quickly at a moment's notice. Right now the stuff [three big league average or better pitches], physical size, and average command projects him best as a big league middle-to-back-end starting pitcher. In fact, the combination of stuff and advanced pitch-ability resemble a young Kyle Hendricks of the Chicago Cubs if/when the command does take that next step. However, putting Finley's projection in a proverbial box like that right now would be ignoring some considerable ceiling that could still be tapped in the coming years, especially with the power in his fastball, the movement and effectiveness of his changeup, and the real possibility of furthering his overall command with all three pitches. In a lot of ways he resembles current Yankee farmhand Brady Lail at similar points in their careers as a pitcher whose long-term ceiling could go a couple of different ways; he brings a nice combination of safe long-term projection right now with the potential for his ceiling to develop considerably as he continues to gain experience and mature. Of course, as he learned in 2016, he needs to stay healthy for all of that to happen.
ETA. N/A. We mentioned a year ago that Finley's game is advanced enough right now to make the jump to the long-season leagues in his first full season in 2016 and despite pitching in Staten Island and getting hurt that still rings true today. If healthy he seems too advanced to start back down in the short-season leagues so expect to see him gain significant long-season league innings in 2017, mostly with the Charleston RiverDogs.