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TheRockies.Life Staff

Former Canadian MVP Makes the Big Show

Funderburk may be playing for the Twins, but he still has some Dawg in him.

Kody Funderburk, the Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the Western Canadian Baseball League in 2017, threw his first pitch in the major league on August 28. Alberta baseball fans got to know Funderburk when he made a big splash with Okotoks Dawgs and Edmonton Prospects player.

Now, he is pitching in the top baseball league in the world, wearing #55 for the Minnesota Twins.

Funderburk is the fourth Okotoks Dawgs alumnus to play in the MLB and the third pitcher to do so. He follows behind Tampa Bay Rays’ Andrew Kittredge, Cincinnati Reds’ Alejo Lopez, and the Milwaukee Brewers bullpen coach Jim Henderson.

Funderburk was on his way to the Minnesota State Fair when he got the call from the Twins welcoming him to the big leagues.

a portrait photo of kody funderburk in the twins baseball uniform with long hair and baseball cap
Western Canadian Baseball League

The six-foot-four pitcher from Mesa, Arizona, played for the Edmonton Prospects in 2016. He pitched out of the bullpen while also playing at first base and designated hitter. He had an ERA of 3.08 across 26.1 innings, but he showed that his arm was for more than just pitching that summer. He led the league in home runs with 15, also setting a new team record.

Measuring six-foot-four, the 26-year-old Funderburk Funderburk returned to the Canadian league the following summer, this time suiting up for the Okotoks Dawgs. He made ten appearances out of the bullpen, registering a 0.90 ERA, 12 Ks and a save for the Dawgs.

Funderburk planned to Okotoks in 2018, but the Twins came calling, drafting him in the 15th round.

Since then, Funderburk has steadily climbed the rankings, reaching the AAA level earlier this season with the St. Paul Saints, a Minor League team in the International League and the AAA affiliate of the Twins.

Before being called up, Funderburk had gone 4-1 with five saves in 37 games. If you aren’t a baseball buff, a save refers to when a relief pitcher, the pitcher that replaces the starting pitcher, enters a match with a lead of three or fewer runs without giving up the lead.

After five years in the minor leagues, Funderburk was called up to the big show.

In his first MLB appearance, Funderburk was the deciding factor in the game between the Twins and the Cleveland Guardians. Funderburk entered the game in the fifth inning.

He brought the thunder with him as he walked out of the bullpen to AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” But the former Okotoks Dawg had plenty of bite to back up his bark.

kody funderburk in his okotoks dawgs uniform holding a baseball glove and wearing a red cap
Kody Funderburk when he played for the Okotoks Dawgs in 2018 | High River Online

Taking over for the Twins’ starting pitcher Kenta Maeda, the left-handed Funderburk pitched two perfect innings with no hits or walks allowed. He also struck out three batters, securing a 10-6 win for the Twins.

“It was super impressive. He looked cool, calm and collected, and he dominated. Give it up for Fundy, right here,” said Twins’ infielder Royce Lewis as he spoke to fans after the match.

According to Funderburk, he didn’t have enough time to be nervous. He was entirely focused on his game and execution. He did not disappoint.

“I was glad I got to go to Okotoks and experience a summer with the Dawgs. It’s like nothing else up there to play in front of the big crowds,” he told the Western Wheel.

Now that he’s in the major leagues, Funderburk will be playing in some high-stakes games for the Twins. The MLB playoffs are right around the corner, with the regular reason ending on October 1.

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