ST. PAUL, MN (October 4, 2023) – All season long, the St. Paul Saints had one of the best pitching staffs in Triple-A. They finished fourth among the 30 Triple-A teams in ERA at 4.59 and were among the Top-10 in the International League in several other categories including strikeouts
_ST. PAUL, MN _*(October 4, 2023) – *All season long, the St. Paul Saints had one of the best pitching staffs in Triple-A. They finished fourth among the 30 Triple-A teams in ERA at 4.59 and were among the Top-10 in the International League in several other categories including strikeouts and WHIP. It was only fitting that honors were bestowed upon two of the arms that helped the Saints achieve their best year in the three seasons as the Minnesota Twins Triple-A affiliate. Starter Louie Varland was awarded as one of four International League Post-Season All-Star starters and reliever Kody Funderburk was named the left-handed International League Post-Season All-Star reliever as announced by Minor League Baseball.
The 25-year-old Varland was electric on the mound for the Saints this season. He finished 7-1 with a 3.97 ERA in 16 games (15 starts). In 81.2 innings pitched he walked just 26 and struck out 88 while opponents hit .265 against him with a 1.35 WHIP.
After being optioned from the Twins to the Saints on June 20, Varland worked on his two-seam fastball. After a couple of tough outings, Varland was impressive over the final two months with the Saints. He went 5-1 with a 2.83 ERA in 11 appearances (10 starts) across July and August. In 57.3 innings pitched he walked 15 and struck out 55. Overall, Varland had four quality starts and went at least 5.0 innings nine times.
The 26-year-old Funderburk was electric out of the Saints bullpen. After being called up to Triple-A on April 27 from Double-A Wichita, he was one of the most reliable arms out of the bullpen for manager Toby Gardenhire. Funderburk was 4-1 with a 2.60 ERA and five saves in 37 games (two starts). In 52.0 innings pitched he walked 21 and struck out 75 while opponents hit .183 against him with a 1.03 WHIP. Funderburk struck out at least one hitter in all 37 appearances.
Funderburk didn’t allow a run in 28 of 37 appearances and only allowed multiple runs on five occasions, but never more than two runs in any outing. In his 37 appearances, Funderburk was asked to get at least six outs 10 times and didn’t allow a run in six of those appearances.
Varland and Funderburk are the first Saints pitchers to be named International League Post-Season All-Stars in the three seasons of the affiliation. Tomás Telis was named a Triple-A East Post-Season All-Star at catcher in 2021.
Each of the 20 International League teams cast two votes, one by the manager and one by the team broadcaster. Final decisions were determined by the Commissioner’s Office.