With their “second” 1st-round pick, the Dodgers selected Louisville right-handed pitcher Kyle Funkhouser. Despite the strong last name and subsequent association with Marty Funkhouser, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this pick.
Funkhouser was a Top 10ish pick for most of the spring, then began to fall down draft rankings in the last couple weeks. That always is a red flag for me. Not only that, but much like his 1st-round cohort Walker Buehler from Vanderbilt, there are questions — admittedly different ones — about whether he can remain in the rotation.
Funkerhouser, like Buehler, has a potentially plus-fastball and breaking ball (a slider instead of a curveball). His fastball sits in the 90-95 MPH range, and he tops out in the high-90s. His slider is a low-80s pitch with good bite and a changeup that has flashed average-to-above-average potential. He also has a curveball that’s fringy at present. He’ll need to refine his command and control if he wishes to remain in the rotation.
He has some effort to his delivery, but with professional instruction, the Dodgers obviously feel they can figure him out. He stands on the extreme first-base side of the rubber as he begins his delivery. He has a normal leg kick and drives off his back leg to generate velocity. The effort comes in during the second half of his delivery, as his front foot lands early and he has to whip his arm through to catch up. He has plus-arm speed and a sturdy frame, so he might be able to handle it.
The Dodgers might have to go slightly over slot to get Funkhouser to sign (but probably not much). He had some injury concerns due to the fact he didn’t make his medicals available before the draft (which isn’t a requirement, by the way), which could be a big reason why he fell down draft boards.
Here’s a little more on Buehler after watching some more video.
Buehler stands on the first-base side of the rubber with an almost “at attention” stance. He makes the turn quickly after beginning his delivery as his hands come down to belt-level. His leg kick isn’t as high as Funkhouser’s, though. He swings his leg forward and gets his front foot down. His arm can drag a little bit, but he catches it up with plus-arm speed that helps to generate good velocity. There’s more effort in his delivery than former Dodger draftees, and it’ll be interesting to see if the instructors can smooth that out a bit. He follows through with his delivery, but he doesn’t bend his back as much as other pitchers.
He could add some good weight, but Buehler might always have a wiry-type frame. If he does add weight, there’s no telling if it would impact his stuff positively or negatively. Odds are he’d be OK, but the Dodgers also wouldn’t make him do something he doesn’t want to do in adding weight to his frame. If he has a stronger frame, there’s a better chance he remains in the rotation long-term — provided the stuff is still there.
There are a lot of similarities to Buehler — they both fell a bit, they both were good value at their selection spots and both have plus-fastballs. That’s good. It’s similar to when the Dodgers drafted Chris Anderson and Tom Windle in 2013. Both of them are college starting pitchers with solid stuff. I’d say both of these guys have better pure stuff than Anderson and Windle.
Chris Mitchell at The Hardball Times used his KATOH projection system to predict how many wins above replacement the top college pitchers would have by age-28. The results weren’t pretty for Buehler and Funkhouser (or almost any college pitcher, actually).
Buehler has a 20 percent chance of making the majors and of producing 0.4 wins above replacement through age-28. Funkhouser has a 17 percent chance of making it to the majors and of producing 0.2 WAR. This takes into consideration that both these 21-year-olds will need some time in the minors before coming up to the majors (ETA on both would be 2017 at earliest). Odds are they could out-perform this projection (even out of the bullpen), but it shows the lack of depth in the college class in this year’s draft. For reference, Yankees’ 1st-round pick James Kaprielian projects at 56 percent (tied for second-best) and 2.9 WAR (most).
After watching and reading more on them, I’m good with these picks. My initial reaction on both were kind of negative, but only because I had my sights set on other players — one of whom is still available (Michael Matuella). I am concerned they could both end up in the bullpen, but that could be said about many a pitcher.
In terms of prospect rankings, I’d say these two are firmly entrenched in the Top 10, but behind guys like Anderson and Jose De Leon. They might be ahead of the likes of Alex Verdugo, Zach Lee, et al. We’ll see in the midseason update, which will include July 2 signings.
I will say this: I think these picks, along with the impending July 2 bonanza the Dodgers are going to have, I wouldn’t get too terribly attached to the likes of Anderson, De Leon and Grant Holmes. They might be the best non-Julio Urias trade pieces in the system (they aren’t trading Corey Seager). Losing two or three of these guys to improve the MLB roster is significantly easier with Buehler and Funkhouser in the fold (not officially, but I’d be shocked if either don’t sign).