Righthander Kyle Funkhouser’s velocity is back, but no pitcher strikes out 14.1 batters per nine innings with only one pitch.
Funkhouser had seen an uptick in velocity as he continued to work to develop the secondary pitches that the Tigers hope will lead him into the big league rotation down the road.
Funkhouser struck out nine batters in three of his first four starts at low Class A West Michigan and recorded 49 strikeouts in 31.1 innings through seven starts.
“He’s got some good weapons,” director of player development Dave Owen said. “He’s a four-pitch guy: fastball, curveball, changeup and slider.”
The Dodgers made Funkhouser a first-round pick in 2015, but he returned to Louisville for his senior season. A drop in velocity and command issues resulted in the Tigers scooping him up in the fourth round a year later.
“He was up to 97 (mph),” Owen said in mid-May after a Funkhouser start.
The 23-year-old Funkhouser was pleased with how his fastball had fared this season.
“I don’t really look at the (pitch) chart often,” he said, “but I think I’m sitting in the 93-96 (mph) range and touching 98 a couple times. So that’s up from what it was last year.”
Funkhouser said his curveball was his second-best pitch and that a new grip had helped his changeup make a big leap this season. He had not used his slider that much this season because of some inconsistencies.
Consistency and development will come with time and hard work.
“I think he’s going to make some really nice progress,” Owen said. “He’s got a good baseball head on his shoulders. He kind of knows the direction he wants to go.
“We’ve just got to keep giving him that experience and helping him get there. He’ll do it. He’ll do the heavy lifting.”
— Chris Iott is a writer based in Michigan