The New York Yankees selected right-handed pitcher Drew Finley in the third round of the 2015 draft out of Rancho Bernardo High School in San Diego. A $950,00 signing bonus kept Finley from accepting a scholarship offer from the University of Southern California.
Finley signed with the Yankees on June 18 and was assigned to the Pulaski Yankees of the Rookie-level Appalachian League. Finley appeared in 12 games, all of them starts, posting a record of 0-1. He pitched 32 innings allowing 33 hits and 20 runs, 14 of which were earned, calculating out to a 3.94 ERA. Finley had an issue allowing the long ball as he surrendered nine home runs. He also struggled with control as he issued 19 walks which helped lead to a 1.63 WHIP. He did strike out 41 batters though showing that he had good movement on his pitches. Command of that movement and velocity is key to Finley’s development.
The Yankees sent Finley the next level up to the Staten Island Yankees of the short-season A New York-Penn League. In his first start of the season against the Brooklyn Cyclones at Richmond County Bank Ballpark on June 18, Finely pitched six innings allowing no hits and one earned run while striking out five batters. Finley had a no decision in that game in which the Yankees won 2-1 in 10 innings.
He ended up starting all six games he pitched and went 0-3 with a 4.28 ERA. In 27 and one-third innings, he allowed just 21 hits while walking nine and striking out 20, posting a 1.10 WHIP. Opposing batters only managed a .212 batting average off of Finley before tenderness in his elbow after his start on July 19 ended up shutting him down for the season. An MRI revealed no structural damage, and the Yankees chose not to risk further injury as Finley is only 20 years old.
Finley has a fastball that registers in the mid-90s and possesses a plus curveball. He also mixes in a changeup. Finley is still a young pitcher who is still putting it all together and did improve on his command in his short time at Staten Island in 2016. As time goes on, the Yankees will also stretch out his innings per start. If he can command his fastball and curveball while bringing along his changeup, he will become the pitcher the Yankees envisioned when they drafted him in the third round, awarding him an above-slot signing bonus. The Yankees will not rush him through the minors as he is still young and suffered a setback with the elbow injury.
There’s a good chance that Finley will pitch at low single-A Charleston of the South Atlantic League if his elbow is healthy to start 2017. If the Yankees are ultra careful with Finley, then he may see time in extended spring training and find himself back at Staten Island in June. The Yankees won’t do anything to rush Finley at this point as he will only be 21 years of age when the 2017 season ends.