The Cincinnati Reds released seven players from the minor leagues this past week. Former 1st round draft pick Brandon Finnegan was one of those seven players.
When the Cincinnati Reds traded away the best starting pitcher they’d had in decades with Johnny Cueto back in 2015 they acquired a trio of starting pitchers from the Kansas City Royals. Among that group, and the headlining player was left-handed pitcher Brandon Finnegan.
While Brandon Finnegan had pitched in the big leagues in 2015 with Kansas City, when he joined the Reds he was sent to Triple-A Louisville. He had some struggles there, too, but was called up in September where he held his own in two relief appearances and four starts, posting a 4.18 ERA in 23.2 innings.
The next spring the then 23-year-old lefty made the roster out of spring training and made 31 starts for the Reds, throwing 172.0 innings. He posted a 3.98 ERA in that stretch and looked like he was on his way to being a staple in the Cincinnati rotation moving forward.
But as they say: Man makes plans, God laughs. In 2017 Brandon Finnegan made three starts to begin the season with the Reds. After throwing 7.0 innings of 1-hit baseball in his season opener he managed to throw 3.0 innings combined in the next two outings while walking eight batters. He then went on the injured list and missed the next two months before returning on a rehab stint. After three games in the minors he returned to Cincinnati’s roster and made one start in St. Louis before being shutdown for the rest of the year.
From that point forward things were never the same for the lefty. His ERA the next season, mostly spent in Triple-A, was over 7.00. In 2019 he missed the entire first half of the season so he could work with Driveline to try and find some velocity after he was struggling to reach 90 MPH. He did return in the second half that year throwing harder, sitting in the 92-94 range and touching higher, but the results didn’t follow as he allowed 11 runs on 14 hits and 10 walks in 15.0 innings.
In 2021 he spent the year pitching in Triple-A Louisville. The results there were better than he’s had in a while, but they weren’t great. He pitched in 40 games – 39 out of the bullpen – and he struggled as he posted a 5.53 ERA in 55.1 innings where he walked 36 batters and had 57 strikeouts.
With his release, the Reds no longer have any players from the Johnny Cueto trade in the organization. John Lamb was traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash after the 2016 season. Cody Reed also wound up being traded to Tampa Bay, but that came in August of 2020 when the Cincinnati acquired Riley O’Brien.