Brandon Finnegan took the express route from Texas Christian to the big leagues in 2014. After pitching the Horned Frogs to the College World Series, he signed with the Royals as the 17th overall choice and worked just 27 innings in the Minors before getting the call to Kansas City.
Brandon Finnegan took the express route from Texas Christian to the big leagues in 2014. After pitching the Horned Frogs to the College World Series, he signed with the Royals as the 17th overall choice and worked just 27 innings in the Minors before getting the call to Kansas City. Finnegan not only became the first player from his Draft class to reach the Majors, but also the first player to appear in the CWS and the World Series in the same calendar year.
Fellow TCU star Durbin Feltman won't get the opportunity to become the second because the Horned Frogs failed to qualify for the NCAA playoffs after reaching the previous four College World Series. But the Red Sox third-rounder is the favorite to match Finnegan as the first player from his Draft to advance to the big leagues.
:: 2018 Draft coverage ::
College relievers often get the opportunity to move quickly, and Feltman was the best college reliever available in the 2018 Draft. Armed with a 95-99 mph fastball with running action and a power slider that gives him a second plus-plus pitch at times, he posted a 0.74 ERA, a .143 opponent average and a 43/6 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings this spring. Feltman saved six games and tied the TCU career record with 32.
With the quality of Feltman's stuff, the relatively little mileage put on his right arm in 2018 and the ability to contribute to a bona fide contender, everything is in place for him to reach Boston this summer if needed. Besides Finnegan, two other players have appeared in the big leagues in the same year they were drafted this decade, both college left-handers: Chris Sale with the White Sox in 2010 and Paco Rodriguez with the Dodgers in '12.
After Feltman, these are the other 2018 draftees who should get to the Majors the quickest:
2. Ryley Gilliam, RHP, Mets (fifth round, 140 overall)
Another reliever who dominated college hitters this spring, Gilliam is a small guy with a quick arm that produces one of the better curveballs in this Draft, not to mention 91-96 mph fastballs. The Clemson product has an up-tempo delivery with some funkiness that adds deception, though it also can hamper his command at times. Yet another college bullpener to watch is Mariners eighth-rounder Joey Gerber, an Illinois right-hander with a 92-96 mph heater and a sharp slider.
3. Casey Mize, RHP, Tigers (first round, No. 1 overall)
No pitcher in this Draft can match Mize's combination of stuff and polish, which is why Detroit took him with the first choice. His splitter/changeup is nearly unhittable, his 92-97 mph fastball has running life, and he can morph his plus slider into a cutter or a curveball -- and he commands all of those offerings well. Mize has worked 109 1/3 innings for Auburn, with at least one more start coming in the NCAA Division I Super Regionals, so he likely won't pitch much in pro ball this summer.
4. Brady Singer, RHP, Royals (first round, No. 18 overall)
After helping lead Florida to the 2017 College World Series championship, Singer beat out Mize for Southeastern Conference Pitcher of the Year honors this spring and won't need much time before he can bolster Kansas City's beleaguered big league rotation. He works off a 92-96 mph fastball and a slider for which he has tremendous feel, pounding the strike zone and earning praise for his competitive fire. Singer already has pitched 95 innings for the Gators and is still alive in the Super Regionals, so he'll also get a light workload this summer after he turns pro.
5. Nick Madrigal, 2B, White Sox (first round, No. 4 overall)
The best pure hitter available -- and the best player in college baseball -- Madrigal has been the spark on an Oregon State team that has gone 103-16 over the past two seasons. He makes repeated line-drive contact with ease, controls the strike zone, runs the bases well with plus speed and is a smooth second baseman. Madrigal has very refined skills and is nearly ready for the Majors, though his timetable could slow a bit if Chicago decides to move him back to shortstop.
Top high school candidate: Matthew Liberatore, LHP, Rays (first round, No. 16 overall)
Exceedingly polished for a prepster, Liberatore has the potential for four solid to plus pitches and command to match. The Mountain Ridge High (Glendale, Ariz.) product shows moxie on the mound and has a track record of performing against top competition and in international events, so he shouldn't be fazed by pro ball. Loretto (Tenn.) High's Ryan Weathers, the No. 7 overall pick by the Padres and the son of 19-year big league pitcher David, is another advanced high school southpaw to watch.
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.