Four Former IL Prep Arms Selected On First Day Of MLB Draft



By Ryan Quigley
Illinois Scouting Director

The first day of the June MLB Draft saw three former Illinois high school players drafted within the first 50 picks. All three were pitchers, with Illinois lefthander Tyler Jay (Lemont HS) the first off the board, going to the Minnesota Twins with the sixth pick of the draft. Louisville righthander Kyle Funkhouser (Oak Forest) went in the first round (35th overall) to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Texas Christian lefthander Alex Young (Carmel Catholic) went in the second round (43rd overall) to the Diamondbacks, and former Marian Catholic and current Arizona state southpaw Brett Lilek went in the second round (50th overall) to the Florida Marlins.

Jay’s meteoric rise as a prospect has been well documented in media outlets. Just three years ago he ranked No. 25 in the PBR Illinois rankings for the class of 2012. Jay went from throwing 84-87 mph as a high school junior, to 87-91 as a senior, all the way to 94-97 this spring during the Illini’s incredible run to a super-regional which featured a school and Big Ten record 27-game winning streak. Illinios’ closer finished the season 5-2 with 14 saves and a 1.08 ERA, the third lowest in the country. He’s earned praise from professional scouts as one of the most major league ready arms in the 2015 draft.

The Twins plan to develop Jay as a starter, but don’t be surprised if he follows a path similar to the Royals Brandon Finnegan did in 2014, by making his debut sometime late this summer if the Twins are in contention.

Kyle FunkhouserBefore the college season began, Funkhouser, coming off a school record for single season wins where he led the nation going 13-3 with a 1.94 ERA and 122 strikeouts in 120.1 innings pitched, was an early consideration to potentially be the first pick taken in the draft. The former Oak Forest Bengal, who finished ranked No. 3 in IL’s 2012 rankings, turned in a dominant summer for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, leading the squad in strikeouts (36), while posting a 1.27 ERA in 28.1 innings.

The thickly built 6-foot-2, 235-pound righty has been a workhorse at Louisville over three years, never missing a start, compiling a 26-9 career record in 287.1 innings pitched. With a fastball capable of reaching 97 mph, known for its two-seam life when thrown in the 91-94 mph range.

The 2014 First Team ABCA All-American didn’t exactly struggle in 2015, still going 8-5 with a 3.20 ERA and 104 strikeouts in 112.1 innings, but his prospect status fell slightly.

Still, Prep Baseball Report’s National Supervisor Nathan Rode saw Funkhouser against Duke in early April, where he looked like a potential top five pick. If Funkhouser can fix the occasional command problems he showed during the spring, he may exceed his ceiling as a solid mid-rotation starter and become one of the steals of the 2015 draft.

Alex YoungTCU’s Alex Young ranked as the No. 4 prospect in Illinois in the final 2012 rankings, coming out of Carmel Catholic with an 89-90 mph fastball, paired with a sharp breaking curveball that has been his calling card during his three years with the College World Series-bound Horned Frogs. He goes to the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 43rd pick in the second round, and projects as a lefty starter with a chance for three average or better pitches.

The 2015 first-team All-Big 12 performer put together a solid three-year career at TCU, going 17-9 with a 2.38 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 173.1 innings pitched. Young transitioned to the starting rotation in 2015, going 9-2 on the hill with 91 strikeouts in 89.2 innings.

Brett LilekArizona State lefthander Brett Lilek was selected in the middle of the second round with the 50th overall pick. His fastball sits at 88-92 mph now, touching as high as 95 mph. Lilek ranked as the 5th overall player in Illinois’ 2012 class and led Marian Catholic to a Class 3A State Championship he’s senior season, where he turned in a dominant 11-strikeout performance in the state semifinals.

Lilek, who has always possessed first-round potential type stuff, had an up-and-down spring, where he began the year as ASU’s Friday night starter, was knocked back in the rotation, but then finished strong. He ended the 2015 year 4-2 with a 3.20 ERA for the Sun Devils, only allowing 58 hits in 78.2 innings pitched. He struck out 66 and walked 44.

Just for fun, let’s take a glimpse back at the final scouting reports from the PBR system in 2012 on all three of these former Illinois prospects. We’d like to congratulate them, and wish them the best of luck on their journey to the major leagues.

Tyler Jay Scouting Report

Primarily known for his prowess on the mound, Tyler Jay also made a big name for himself at the plate this spring. He hit well above .500 for most of the spring and finished with a .484 batting average. The left-handed hitter also slugged at a .684 clip, as he tallied 10 doubles, 3 triples, 1 homer and 35 RBI for the Indians.  Jay’s offensive numbers, however, only tell part of his story. Jay blossomed into one of the state’s more dominant left-handed prospects, as his velocity spiked in the 87-91 mph range to go along with his effective curveball and changeup. Signed at the University of Illinois, Jay struck out 88 in 49 innings (1.8 per inning), and walked 19. He finished with an 8-3 record and a 1.14 ERA against some of the best teams in the state. Jay first established himself during his sophomore year, when he posted a 5-0 record for the Indians. Over the last two seasons he racked up 158 strikeouts in 89 innings. Jay also was a standout wide receiver and returner on Lemont’s football team.

Kyle Funkhouser Scouting Report

A two-time Prep Baseball Report first-team All-State selection, Funkhouser will go down as one of Illinois’ most decorated pitchers in recent history. In three varsity seasons, the University of Louisville recruit amassed an incredible 32-3 record after going 11-2 during his senior campaign. Few, if pitcher, possessed better stuff than Funkhouser. His fastball regularly sat in the 88-90 mph range, climbing as high as 94 mph in the playoffs, and he commanded the strike zone with three pitches.  A workhorse on the mound, Funkhouse racked up 123 strikeouts and walked 25 in 78.2 innings as a senior. He finished with a 0.89 ERA - a number that would’ve been significantly lower if not for an anomalous game against Andrew. As a junior, Funkhouser led Oak Forest to a Class 3A runner-up finish after he went 12-0 with a 0.84 ERA. In 82.2 innings, he struck out 134 and walked 25. He also posted a 9-1 record as a sophomore.

Alex Young Scouting Report

The athletic 6-foot-3, 180-pound Young was impressive all-around, but no doubt he should be one of the heaviest recruited left-handed pitching prospects in the state. Young also impressed with his changeup, 79-82 mph, that displayed late fade. Young's 74-75 mph curveball also displayed excellent action. Young, who ran a 7.02 60, showed off his arm strength from the outfield (86 mph) and took an excellent round of BP. The 6-foot-2, 180-pound left-hander earned the top prospect of the event, and in the process cemented himself as a high-level, top 10 player in the Class of 2012. Young comes from a 3/4 arm slot with a clean arm action and a fastball that sat 87-88 mph with late arm-side run. Young displayed a dynamic core and lower half to go with good rhythm and tempo throughout his mechanics. Beyond his fastball, Young really impressed with his secondary pitches. His 76-78 mph changeup had late downward action. Young's curveball also projects to be a plus pitch at the next level; it demonstrated tight, late, hard break. Strong-armed athlete should emerge as one of the premier left-handers in the state.

Brett Lilek Scouting Report

Brett Lilek, who’s the No. 1-ranked prospect in the Class of 2012, has committed to Arizona State University. Lilek, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound LHP from Marian Catholic HS, has been the top-ranked prospects in the class since early in his sophomore year.

At the Area Code tryouts last week, Lilek showed why he was one of the nation’s most coveted left-handers when he flashed a 90-93 mph fastball to go along with an 80-82 mph slider during his bullpen session.

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TCU’s Alex Young ranked as the No. 4 prospect in Illinois in the final 2012 rankings, coming out of Carmel Catholic with an 89-90 mph fastball, paired with a sharp breaking curveball that has been his calling card during his three years with the College World Series-bound Horned Frogs. He goes to the Arizona Diamondbacks with the 43rd pick in the second round, and projects as a lefty starter with a chance for three average or better pitches.

The 2015 first-team All-Big 12 performer put together a solid three-year career at TCU, going 17-9 with a 2.38 ERA and 168 strikeouts in 173.1 innings pitched. Young transitioned to the starting rotation in 2015, going 9-2 on the hill with 91 strikeouts in 89.2 innings.