The thought of Louisville baseball getting the highest draft pick in the history of the program to return to school for his senior season seems absurd, but that may be the very road Kyle Funkhouser elects to take here in a few short hours.
Funkhouser, U of L's No. 1 starter for the past two seasons, has until 5 p.m. to decide whether he wants to sign a contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers or play one more season of college baseball for the Cardinals. The hard-throwing righty was selected by the Dodgers with the 35th overall pick in the MLB Draft last month, but the $2 million that the franchise has to offer him may not be enough to entice Funk away from Dan McDonnell's program and another run at the draft next June.
The situation for Funkhouser is this: he was a player who, during the late months of winter and early months of spring, some believed might be selected No. 1 overall in the draft. Even when his numbers took a bit of a dip towards the end of his junior year, most believed he would be, at worst, a top 20 pick set to sign an initial pro contract for somewhere in the vicinity of $5 million. To sign for significantly less than that would be disappointing, but still, perhaps, a safer alternative than returning to school with the hope of being in a much better position a year from now.
As for how this afternoon is going to play out, the people who follow this sort of thing appear to be somewhat torn.
Of seven unsigned guys in top 2 rds, I expect Swanson, Buehler & Kirby to sign. Funkhouser maybe. Singer, Hughes, Cody unlikely. @MLBDraft— Jim Callis (@jimcallisMLB) July 17, 2015
The #Dodgers don't have much flexibility to pay Walker Buehler & Kyle Funkhouser more than their assigned values of $2,094,400 & $1,756,100— Guardian Angel (@angelocustode9) July 17, 2015
A season after he set the U of L single-season record for wins by going 13-3 with a 1.94 ERA and 122 strikeouts (third most at Louisville) in 120.1 innings pitched (second most at Louisville), Funkhouser finished his junior year with an 8-5 mark to go along with a 3.20 ERA. His return coupled with the return of national Freshman of the Year Brendan McKay (9-3, 1.77 ERA) would give the Cards arguably the most lethal 1-2 pitching punch in the country in 2016.
Stay tuned for some news at some point between now and 5.