LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers 2015 draft already took a hit with the inability to sign supplemental first-rounder Kyle Funkhouser out of Louisville. But there is bad new surrounding first-round pick Walker Buehler as well, with reports that the Vanderbilt right-handed pitcher will need Tommy John surgery, per both Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Keith Law of ESPN.
That would explain why the Dodgers were able on Friday to sign Buehler, whom they had ninth on their draft board but picked at No. 24 overall, for just $1.78 million, well below his allotted slot amount of $2,094,400.
The Dodgers for their part will not comment on the extent of Buehler's injury, or even if he is injured at all.
"We're not going to comment on anything medically related to Walker," said Dodgers general manager Farhan Zaidi on Friday. "We're excited to have him on board. He finished the college year strong, pitching in the College World Series."
Buehler had a 2.95 ERA in 16 starts for Vanderbilt in his junior season in 2015, with 92 strikeouts and 30 walks in 88⅓ innings.
Buehler wasn't the only Dodgers early pick to pitch deep into the College World Series. Buehler's teammate Philip Pfeifer was taken in the fifth round, and Virginia closer Josh Sborz was drafted with in the Competitive Balance B round, pick No. 74 overall.
Pfeifer threw 96⅓ innings, and Sborz threw 73 high-leverage relief innings, including 13 scoreless in his four appearances in Omaha.
Zaidi said the Dodgers will take it easy on this group for the remainder of the 2015 season.
"We have a generally conservative approach with college pitchers. particularly guys who pitched deep into the season. Not just Walker, but Pfeifer and Sborz as well who signed last week. We're going to be very conservative with those guys," Zaidi said. "Not just workloads, but even with individual outings. We're going to limit both their pitch and inning counts.
"It's just a way to add on a few more innings, so they have a broader launching point going into 2016. Certainly we don't want to do anything that puts added strain after the long college season."
One person who won't be handled with kid gloves is sixth-rounder Edwin Rios, the first baseman out of Florida International who also signed on Friday.
"We went really pitching heavy, so being able to get a college bat that's polished, hopefully one who can hit in the middle of the lineup, is exciting," Zaidi said. "It took some time to hammer out the deal, so he lost some development time which is unfortunate. But we're obviously excited to have him. He'll start in Arizona and move up to one of the other clubs shortly thereafter."