Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports that the Royals have signed pitcher Brandon Finnegan at slot value, $2,200,600. The Royals took the lefty in the first round of the MLB first-year player draft, 17th overall. He’ll debut for Single-A Wilmington in July.
Finnegan, 21, played three years at Texas Christian University, posting a 2.04 ERA with 134 strikeouts in 105 2/3 innings, helping the Horned Frogs to an appearance in the College World Series. While Finnegan was highly ranked going into the draft — anywhere from 15th to 25th depending on who you read — some question his size and durability. Some surmise Finnegan may have a future as a reliever.
Outfielder Brandon Downes, taken in the seventh round, was also signed to a deal on Friday, worth $150,000. Downes tweeted a picture of him signing the contract. The Royals have now agreed to contracts with their first 20 picks in the 2014 draft.
Everyone is well aware of how good Angels outfielder Mike Trout is at the game of baseball. The 26-year-old is already an all-time great, having won two MVP awards — and arguably deserving of two others — and the 2012 Rookie of the Year Award. He has accrued 54.2 WAR, per Baseball Reference, which is right around the threshold for a Hall of Fame career. Trout does it all: he draws walks, he hits for average, he hits for power, he steals bases, he plays good defense.
But here’s an achievement that is amazing even for a player like Trout: he has yet to strike out this spring. In 41 Cactus League plate appearances, he has 10 hits (including a triple and two homers) and six walks with zero strikeouts. Across his career, Trout has a 21.5 percent strikeout rate, right around the league average. He isn’t usually such a stickler for avoiding the punch-out, but this spring he is.
To put this in perspective, 134 players this spring have struck out at least 10 times, according to MLB.com. 938 players have struck out at least once. The only other players to have taken at least 10 at-bats without striking out this spring are Humberto Arteaga (Royals, 23 AB), Tony Cruz (Reds, 18 AB), Oscar Hernandez (Red Sox, 10 AB), and Jacob Stallings (Pirates, 18 AB).
According to Angels assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento, the lack of strikeouts hasn’t been a conscious effort from Trout, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. Ho hum. The best player in baseball is apparently getting even better.