Draft Wrap: Deadline Winners And More
Remember the days when the MLB draft signing deadline day was pretty much like the wild, wild, West?
Though some of us still yearn for those days for some sick reason, today wasn’t like that outside of a few big surprises.
There had been rumblings the past few weeks that Louisville righthander Kyle Funkhouser, a first-round pick, might not sign with the Dodgers. However, let’s be honest, we kind of discounted that as a “sure, it’s possible, but let’s get real” type of situation. Well, it was real, and at the end of the day on Friday, the power righthander decided to return to the Cards for another season.
East of Louisville in Lexington, the University of Kentucky made some waves when righthander Kyle Cody, another power-armed righty, who was drafted in the Competitive Balance Round by the Twins, decided to return to the Wildcats for another season. Cody still needs to refine his craft somewhat, but he has a power arm with the potential to be an All-American in 2016.
Otherwise, in the second round, Florida signee and righthander Brady Singer and Georgia Tech signee and righthander Jonathan Hughes both opted to not sign and attend college, while plenty of other teams received early Christmas gifts as the deadline struck Friday afternoon.
What were the notables and who were the winners? We’ve got your answer.
• Clearly, the biggest story of the day was the return of Louisville righthander Kyle Funkhouser, who, oh yeah, was a first-round pick to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Funkhouser has been an interesting case for about the past month. Sources had told D1Baseball.com in the past week that there was a legitimate chance that Funkhouser returned for another season. However, when it comes to a college junior and a first-round pick, the percentages of that actually happening are very low. Well, Funkhouser was the exception on Friday as he spurned the Dodgers for another season with the Cards. His return is huge and gives the Cards one of the most formidable one-two punches in the country in he and sophomore Brendan McKay, the D1Baseball.com Freshman of the Year. Funkhouser, a physical 6-foot-3, 225-pounder, has a big-time arm, but his next step in the spring could come when he continues to develop his secondary stuff. Even then, he was still a first-round pick based on pure potential.
• What’s with the water in the Bluegrass State right now? While Louisville received some big news, its rival — Kentucky — also was the beneficiary of some terrific news as righthander Kyle Cody decided to return for another season despite being drafted in the Competitive Balance round by the Twins. Cody has a tall frame and an explosive fastball, but like Funkhouser, the continued development, and consistency, of his secondary stuff is what could set him free in his final season with the Wildcats. Cody’s return isn’t quite the surprise that Funkhouser’s was, but it’s still a surprise, and great news for Gary Henderson’s club.
• Most high school stars selected in the second round sign by the deadline; it’s why they’re drafted there in the first place. But Florida signee Brady Singer and Georgia Tech signee Jonathan Hughes were the exceptions. Singer, a very talented righthander and potential instant impact guy, spurned the Blue Jays (who had a bad day, by the way) as a second-round pick. Singer is a 90-plus arm with very solid stuff and a mature presence. Navigating his way through Florida’s rich pitching staff in 2016 might be difficult, but coach Kevin O’Sullivan thinks it is possible. By the way, the Gators also are excited about righthander Jackson Kowar. The Weddington, N.C., native was drafted in the 40th round by the Tigers, but much of that was due to signability. He’s another 90-plus arm the Gators are bringing in this fall. Also, the Jackets got Hughes on campus. The Flowery Branch, Ga., native, really increased his buzz in the spring by sitting 89-92 with his fastball, while also getting up to 96 at times. He’s a hard-nosed guy not afraid to attack hitters, and is exactly what the Jackets need.
• We will have a more in-depth feature of the draft’s biggest winners and losers early next week, but on this day, Oregon State was definitely a big winner. The Beavers struck gold in a variety of ways. For instance, righthander Travis Eckert, a 20th-round pick of the Giants, decided to return for another season, while the bigger story is the additions of several talented high school prospects, including Indians 17th-round selection, shortstop Nick Madrigal ,and Cardinals 21st-rounder Cadyn Grenier. Both Madrigal and Grenier are playing in the West Coast Collegiate League this summer to get their feet wet.
• New Washington State coach Marty Lees will get a nice boost with the additions of freshmen Justin Harrer and righthander Parker McFadden. Harrer, a shortstop and 18th-round pick to the Padres, decided to attend college, while McFadden, a quality righthander, did the same. Much of the credit goes to previous recruiting coordinator Gregg Swenson for landing those guys. And now Lees and his new staff will reap some benefits.
• Illinois was another big winner on Friday. The Fighting Illini were anxiously awaiting several decisions, three from potential returning guys and one from prep star Luke Shilling, a talented righthander who was a 20th-round selection by the Rangers and hails from Michigan. Shillings did not sign at the deadline, while even bigger, C Jason Goldstein (17th round, LAD), SS Adam Walton (20th round, BAL) and of course, RHP Nick Blackburn (22nd round, NYM).
• South Florida is one of those rising programs in college baseball with coach Mark Kingston leading the charge. The Bulls put together arguably the best recruiting class in school history and got five high school signees that were drafted on campus. That list includes a pair of top-20 round selections, including outfielder Garrett Zech (15th round, LAD) and catcher Joe Genord (19th round, LAD). The Bulls also landed Nationals 35th-rounder, shortstop Robert Montes, along with Padres 23rd-rounder and outfielder Chris Chatfield and Mets 26th-rounder and lefthander Shane McClanahan. The Bulls finished last season with a 34-26 overall record and a trip to the Gainesville Regional. The future is very bright for Kingston’s Bulls.
• HEADING TO JUCO: There are plenty of players who went unsigned that will head to junior colleges instead of Division I institutions. The most notable is seventh-rounder and Detroit Tigers selection, shortstop Nicholas Shumpert. Shumpert did not sign with a Division I program, but will head to Houston to play for perennial JUCO power San Jacinto (Texas) CC … The Blue Jays failed to sign 11th-rounder Marrick Crouse, but instead of heading to the University of San Francisco to play for the Dons, instead, he will head to Saddleback (Calif.) CC … And lastly, unsigned Nationals 14th-rounder, LHP Mack Lemieux, will not head to Florida Atlantic. Instead, he’s headed to Palm Beach (Fla.) CC.
• Some other high-profile prep stars were drafted relatively high and elected not to sign. The most notable outside of Singer, Hughes and Shumpert is Cardinals 10th-round pick and Miami soon-to-be freshman Kep Brown. Brown, a former PG All-American, is an advanced offensive player and should provide an immediate impact for the Hurricanes, while Georgia Southern got some luck on deadline day with the addition of righthander Chandler Newman, an 11th-round pick to the Indians. Also getting lucky was Iowa with the addition of Blue Jays 13th-rounder Daniel Perry, while Auburn added RHP Daniel Sprinkle (15th round, CLE), Houston added C Joe Davis (16th round, TB) and Cal State Fullerton hung on to Twins 20th-rounder, RHP Colton Eastman. Eastman has a big-time arm and is fully expected to be an immediate impact guy for Rick Vanderhook’s Titans.
• Speaking of Iowa, the Hawkeyes will return two-way star Tyler Peyton, who was a 33rd-round pick to the Reds, while they also sweated out and will get Mason McCoy, who went undrafted, but made enough noise at the Northwoods League this summer to get teams snooping around on the free agent circuit.
• Pacific was another big winner at the signing deadline. Though the Tigers are in the midst of a coaching search at the moment, the new coach will inherit an absolute stud in OF Gio Brusa, who would’ve been a high-round pick if not for a UCL injury. Brusa, instead, was taken in the 23rd round by the Cardinals. Brusa has big-time power and, should he stay healthy, should have a monstrous 2016 campaign.
• Speaking of potential high-rounders who are in or going to college, UCLA got some great news on Friday when LHP Justin Hooper, RHP Kyle Molnar and C Michael Benson all decided to go to college, to no surprise. Hooper, a 25th-rounder to the Brewers, would’ve been a first-round or top two-round pick if he was deemed signable. The lefty has a huge frame and a huge arm and should be an immediate impact guy, while Molnar, a 25th-rounder to the Cardinals, is a cut of the same cloth in the impact department. There’s also Benson, who was selected by the Rockies in the 34th round. The Bruins also welcome back RHP Tucker Forbes, a 30th-round pick to the Giants. Forbes threw some important innings for the Bruins last season, and is a very quality arm. UCLA will be very young on the mound next season, but it will definitely have talent to go with an offensive lineup that has some seasoned veterans.
• TCU certainly has some significant holes to fill on the mound next season, but there’s plenty of reasons for hope. One is the return of righthander Mitchell Traver, who showed off a big-time fastball and nasty curveball in the postseason. Traver was a 28th-round pick to the Cardinals and didn’t sign, while RHP Luken Baker (Oak Ridge HS, TX), a 37th-round pick to the Astros, would’ve been a very high pick had he not announced early in the process he was going to college. Baker is a country-strong kid with a hard-nosed approach and premium arm, a definite weekend starter from the first day type.
• LSU was glad that the signing deadline passed and shortstop Trey Dawson (Hurricane, WV) was true to his word. The 32nd-round pick to the Tigers, barring some surprises in the fall, likely will be tasked to replace departed shortstop and top-five pick Alex Bregman. That is a tough chore to accomplish, but Dawson is an elite and confident talent. The Tigers also got Tigers 30th-rounder, righthander Cole McKay, on campus, while San Jacinto (Texas) CC righthander Riley Smith, a 31st-round pick to the Pirates, also got through the deadline unsigned.
MLB Draft's Unsigned (Rounds 1-20)
|2||TOR||Brady Singer||RHP||Eustis HS (Fla.)||Florida|
|2||BAL||Jonathan Hughes||RHP||Flowery Branch (Ga.)||Georgia Tech|
|7||DET||Nicholas Shumpert||SS||Highlands Ranch HS (Colo.)||San Jacinto CC (TX)|
|10||STL||Kep Brown||OF||Wando HS (S.C.)||Miami|
|11||TOR||Marrick Crouse||RHP||Dana Hills HS (Calif.)||San Francisco|
|11||CLE||Chandler Newman||RHP||Richmond Hill HS (Ga.)||Georgia Southern|
|13||TOR||Daniel Perry||SS||Lassen HS (Calif.)||Iowa|
|14||WAS||Mack Lemieux||LHP||Jupiter Community (Fla.)||Palm Beach (Fla.) CC|
|15||NYM||Thomas Hackimer||RHP||St. John's|
|15||CLE||Daniel Sprinkle||RHP||White Hall HS (Ark.)||Auburn|
|15||KC||Marquise Doherty||OF||Winnetonka HS (Mo.)||Missouri|
|15||STL||Ryan Merrill||SS||Iowa Western CC||TCU|
|15||LAD||Garrett Zech||OF||Naples HS (Fla.)||South Florida|
|16||TB||Joe Davis||C||Bowie HS (Texas)||Houston|
|16||CLE||Cobie Vance||2B||Pine Forest HS (N.C.)||Alabama|
|17||TOR||Chandler Eden||RHP||Yavapai (Ariz.) CC||Texas Tech|
|17||PIT||Austin Sodders||LHP||Riverside (Calif.) CC||UC Riverside|
|17||CLE||Nick Madrigal||SS||Elk Grove HS (Calif.)||Oregon State|
|17||OAK||Brent Wheatley||RHP||Southern California|
|17||DET||Grant Wolfram||RHP||Hamilton HS (Mich.)||Central Michigan|
|18||BOS||James Nelson||SS||Stone Mountain (Ga.)||Georgia State|
|18||CHC||John Cresto||3B||Cathedral Catholic HS (Calif.)||Santa Clara|
|18||SD||Justin Harrer||SS||Sisters (Ore.)||Washington State|
|18||STL||Josh Rolette||C||Shawnee (Okla.)||Kansas State|
|19||MIN||Kyle Wilson||RHP||Peculiar (Mo.)||Crowder (Mo.) CC|
|19||CIN||Mike Salvatore||RHP||Ewing Township (N.J.)||St. John's|
|19||NYM||Nic Enright||RHP||Steward School (Va.)||Virginia Tech|
|19||DET||Cam Vieaux||LHP||Michigan State|
|19||LAD||Joe Genord||C||Park Vista HS (Fla.)||South Florida|
|20||TEX||Luke Shilling||RHP||Notre Dame Prep (Mich.)||Illinois|
|20||MIN||Colton Eastman||RHP||Central Union (Calif.)||Cal State Fullerton|
|20||SEA||Parker McFadden||RHP||Yelm HS (Wash.)||Washington State|
|20||SF||Travis Eckert||RHP||Oregon State|
|20||KC||Junior Harding||RHP||Chipola (Fla.) JC|