Monday August 28, 2023 was just another Monday for most, but not for Kody Funderburk.
On that day, Funderburk had his contract selected by the Minnesota Twins. He was drafted by the organization back in 2018, selected in the 15th round as the 454th overall pick. From when he was drafted up until recently Funderburk had bounced around the Twins minor league system. He played for the Elizabethton Twins, Fort Myers Miracles, Cedar Rapids Kernels, and Fort Myers Mighty Mussels before getting the call to Double-A Wichita on July 13th, 2021. Shortly after being promoted to Double-A Wichita, Funderburk landed on the 60-day injured list.
Earlier this year, on April 27, Funderburk was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul and first appeared for St. Paul where he worked 1.2 innings and allowed no runs on one hit. He pitched consistently for the Saints all summer. Between Wichita and St. Paul Funderburk appeared in 42 games posting a 5-1 record with a 2.36 ERA. He worked 61.0 innings at the minor league level this season while commanding the strike zone, recording 89 strike outs.
All of this culminated in Funderburk’s contract being selected in August, paving the way for his Major League debut. Taking the mound for the first time in the major leagues can cause a lot of emotions. The short turnaround time between being called up and making an appearance did not allow for much time to think.
"I don't think I had enough time to be nervous,” Funderburk said. ”It was just focus on my game and execute." Execute he did, working two perfect innings while striking out three. Also, Funderburk earned the win, which was his first at the MLB level.
Kody Funderburk is more than just a cool story, he's a part of the future
It's not just that Funderburk is a good story, it's that he's in a position to have a huge impact for Minnesota. With the postseason right around the corner, the rookie has a chance to live out a dream and help ease the suffering of Twins fans all at the same time.
"The biggest thing with my debut is I didn't want to come in scared or nervous to make a mistake. I wanted to come in confident and pitch my game that I know that I can play, and I think I executed it.” Funderburk said after the game to Bally Sports North reporter Audra Martin. “When I got into the game, with the first batter I had some nerves and jitters, but once I was able to settle in and make a play, pitchcom gets you locked back into the catcher and it's just like playing baseball again."
Funderburk impressed the right clubhouse guys, like teammate Royce Lewis.
Lewis spoke on how impressed he was with Funderburk's performance. Following the game Lewis said: "It was super impressive. He looked cool, calm and collected." Impressing managers and teammates means more outings are to come in the major leagues. Funderburk embarked on his first MLB road trip with the Twins later in the week.
On Labor Day weekend the Twins were in Texas where Funderburk appeared on September 2nd and 3rd. Both appearances were strong for Funderburk. He worked an inning each outing and did not allow a run in Texas.
Funderburk appeared in six major league games, posting a record of 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA and seven strikeouts. It seems there's plenty more where that came from, too.