With less than 48 hours to go until the 2016 MLB Draft, we continue plowing through our series of draft profiles for potential early picks, returning to the college pitcher ranks with University of Louisville senior right-hander Kyle Funkhouser.
Funkhouser is no stranger to the process: he was drafted last spring in the compensation round, 35th overall, by the Los Angeles Dodgers. This was on the heels of his junior year, an 8-5, 3.20 season with 104/45 K/BB in 112 innings. That looks solid but it was actually something of a disappointment. Expected to go in the top ten picks at one point, he slumped late in the year and saw his stock decline. He turned down the Dodgers and returned to Louisville for his senior season, hoping to restore his draft stock.
On the surface, it does not look like he's done so: in 93 innings this year he has a 3.86 ERA with a 94/47 K/BB. His strikeout rate is a tad higher this year but so is his walk rate, and his WHIP is virtually unchanged: 1.25 this year, 1.26 last season. In 10 ACC conference starts he posted a 4.30 ERA with a 58/30 K/BB in 61 innings. He did pitch well in his last outing on June 3rd against West Michigan, whiffing six in eight innings with just four hits allowed. He also posted a 40/10 K/BB in his final 37 innings.
The 6-2, 218 pound 22-year-old can be overpowering when he's right, blowing moving low-90s heat with a good curve and change-up past hitters. When he's wrong he looks much more like a thrower than a pitcher, losing the touch with his secondaries and beating himself with shaky command even if he's not giving up lots of walks.
Early in the season Funkhouser looked very off, throwing his fastball in the 80s and with shaky secondary pitches. Later in the year he looked more like his past self, his fastball picking back up into the low-90s. His breaking ball looked better, too, with reports that he was using a new grip.
Confused? You aren't the only one.
Despite all the questions, Funkhouser will still be attractive to someone on draft day: the physical talent to be a strong pitcher is clearly here, even if the results are currently erratic, and as a senior he has no leverage. He is not likely to end up in the first round but could be selected in the compensation area, as he was last year.