8. Kyle Funkhouser, age 23, RH starter, 6-2, 220: It was unusual strategy, for sure, from a star college pitcher. Funkhouser had been a first-round draft pick by the Dodgers in 2015. But he didn’t sign. He instead opted for his senior year at the University of Louisville. He thought he’d benefit. Maybe be an earlier pick in the 2016 draft (he was picked No. 35 overall by L.A.) and sign for much bigger money. He’d also have his college degree (he does, in marketing). And that’s how he ended up signing with the Tigers in June after he fell to them in the fourth round, following a so-so senior year for the Cardinals. Funkhouser isn’t sorry. Nor are the Tigers, who believe they’ll have, in time, a right-hand option out of the bullpen, or in their rotation. In his first taste of professional baseball last summer at Single A Connecticut, Funkhouser put together 13 starts spanning 37 1/3 innings, with a 2.65 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 34 hits, 34 strikeouts, and eight walks. The Tigers will allow him time to prove to himself, and to them, that he retains that old first-round skill.
Timothy D. Easley, Associated Press