Dodgers take college RHP Buehler at No. 24
LOS ANGELES -- The Dodgers had four picks in the first 74 of Monday's Draft and used three of them on major college starting pitchers, headed by slender right-hander Walker Buehler from Vanderbilt with the 24th overall pick.
The Dodgers also took University of Louisville right-hander Kyle Funkhouser with the 35th pick; Texas high school outfielder Mitchell Hansen with the 67th pick; and University of Virginia right-hander Josh Sborz with the 74th pick.
The Draft continues on Tuesday with Rounds 3-10. The MLB.com preview show begins at 12:30 p.m. ET, with exclusive coverage of Rounds 3-10 beginning at 1 p.m. ET.
Billy Gasparino, in his first Draft as Dodgers scouting director, said the pitching-heavy selections were not a planned strategy, but rather "they just fell that way." Although Sborz was a closer this year, the Dodgers view him as a starting pitcher.
Buehler is the 12th pitcher the Dodgers have taken with their first pick in the last 13 years. Gasparino said he is an accomplished college pitcher with three plus power pitches.
According to the MLB.com scouting report:
One of three potential first-round picks from Vanderbilt, Buehler had an exceptional summer in 2014, sharing playoff MVP honors in the Cape Cod League and pitching well with the U.S. collegiate national team after helping the Commodores win the College World Series. He missed the first two weeks of the 2015 season with elbow soreness but bounced back after that. Buehler has a deep repertoire featuring four potential solid-or-better big league pitches and the ability to throw all of them for strikes. His best offering is his 90-96 mph fastball, and while he sometimes gets caught in between his curveball and slider, both can be weapons. His changeup similarly varies from inconsistent to effective. Buehler could have been a Draft pick in the top two rounds out of a Kentucky high school in 2012 had he been signable away from Vanderbilt. The biggest knock on him is that he's just 6-foot-2 and 170 pounds, but he had been durable prior to this spring. His athleticism and sound delivery should allow him to remain a starter. Buehler was drafted in the 12th round by Pittsburgh in 2012.
"It's a pretty cool day," said Buehler, whose school qualified for the College World Series on Monday with a win over Illinois.
He said he was "excited, really humbled" being taken by the Dodgers, but having already been drafted out of high school was familiar with the waiting game until his name was called while his teammates watched MLB Network. Walker was 4-2 with a 2.97 ERA in 14 starts this season for Vanderbilt and 20-7 with a 2.88 ERA in three years there.
Of the current Dodgers, he said he "looked up to Zack Greinke," in part because they have the same body type. Gasparino didn't disagree.
Buehler has already made his Dodger Stadium debut, starting on March 8 in the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic for the Commodores against TCU and allowing just one run on three hits with five strikeouts in four innings.
The slot salary for the Dodgers' 24th overall pick is $2,094,400 and the club's total bonus pool is $7,781,700.
A 20-year-old junior from Lexington, Buehler is majoring in political science with a minor in sociology and corporate strategy and was a Southeastern Conference First-Year Academic Honor Roll selection as a freshman.
Walker's biography page lists the Cincinnati Reds as his favorite team, Tiger Woods as his favorite non-baseball athlete, the Wolf of Wall Street as his favorite movie, and Juicy J as his favorite band.
He lists lawyer or politician as a desired profession if he wasn't an athlete and owning a gecko as his oddest talent. And he said so many teachers teased him about "Ferris Bueller's Day Off," he just "rolls with it."