LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers took their second straight college pitcher with their supplemental first-round selection in the 2015 MLB Draft, picking Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser at No. 35 overall.
What he’s good at right now: When he’s on, Funkhouser has a power repertoire with a sinking fastball in the mid 90s that can touch 97 mph, and a hard curveball in the mid 80’s. He has a physical durable build and can go deep into games and always takes his turn in the rotation. Funkhouser has a long track record of success and is a willing competitor on the mound.
What he can be good at in the future: Like Buehler, there’s little projection left in Funkhouser. His command is fringe average now, and his arm action has been inconsistent. Funkhouser has seen his stuff falter down the stretch and should improve on the consistency of his offerings once rested and programmed for throwing every five days.
What does he need to work on: Funkhouser’s stuff has backed up over the past month and the command has been subpar to boot. While I think the stuff should rebound when rested, getting his command to average will be a priority. Funkhouser isn’t the most athletic arm, and he’ll need to watch his build. Failing those two items, a move to relief could be in his future.
Carry tool: Funkhouser’s fastball is his best pitch when thrown around 94 mph with life down in the zone. He also has a durable build and should count stamina as a positive trait in time.
Biggest weakness: Command is Funkhouser’s biggest weakness, and failing improvement, could cause a move to the bullpen at some point. Related to command, Funkhouser’s athleticism and ability to repeat his delivery are all marks against him.
ETA: Like Buehler, Funkhouser will need some time off after the College World Series, but he’s ready for full season ball. He could reach Double A next season as well, with 2017 a potential ETA as a starter. If moved to pen, he could be up as early as next season.
Realistic best case scenario: Funkhouser rests up from his heavy college workload, recovers his stuff to pitch at 92-94 mph with his hard breaking ball and solid change-up to become a first division number three starter.
Wrap: Funkhouser had been sliding down media mocks after a poor stretch of starts in May, but rarely looked to make it to the Dodgers at pick No. 24, let alone No. 35. Dodgers scouting director Billy Gasparino and crew have played the board once again and taken an arm that has the potential to become a rotation piece in short time, but also have the luxury of waiting on if he takes more time to recover his stuff and improve his command.
While I ranked Funkhouser at #10 on my Top 200, I’ve been on the fence on his value as a starter given his command issues and walk rates. He came in to the year to much fanfare, but his stuff wasn’t commensurate with a top five pick and he likely lacks the ceiling of a frontline starter. Still, when you watch Funkhouser in the right outing, he will show a plus to plus plus fastball with hard sink, and a power breaking ball that he can bury and get hitters to chase for strikes. Funkhouser’s change-up can also be an average pitch.
One thing that has stood out for me with Funkhouser over the past month is how well he’s battled despite diminished stuff. He’s a highly competitive arm that wants to challenge and attack hitters, and he’s still been productive this year.
I thought Funkhouser might be a disappointing selection for a team taking him early in hopes of getting a frontline guy, but the Dodgers don’t need him to develop into that type of arm, and would be thrilled if he became a power number three. He’s the same prospect tier as Buehler on my rankings, though the gap between the two is as large as it can be within the tier. I don’t think he’s quite on par with the Holmes-Buehler-De Leon group, but he’s right there with Chris Anderson-Zach Lee at the top of the 6-10 Dodgers’ prospect group.