Kody Funderburk came out of Queen Creek High School, southeast of Phoenix, with the classic look of a first baseman. He was tall, lefthanded and hit with power. He also was an effective pitcher for the Bulldogs.

Funderburk went to nearby Mesa Community College out of high school. As a freshman, he went 8-4 as a pitcher and batted .324 with 31 RBI.

"The next year, my pitching was not good,'' Funderburk said Tuesday at Target Field. "I only pitched 12 innings. I did have a good season at the plate.''

Indeed. Funderburk batted .400, slugged .651, drove in 55 runs and was a first-team All-America in Division II JUCO baseball. This was in 2017.

Six years later, Funderburk made his major league debut for the Twins on Monday night. As a lefthanded reliever.

Funderburk had landed at Dallas Baptist, a baseball powerhouse, as a junior. He totaled 59 games, batting .313 with 12 home runs and 47 RBI. He pitched in 14 games, with 46⅓ innings with a 6.80 ERA.

He entered the 2018 MLB draft and lasted until the 15th round. And then he was selected by the Twins. They did so on the recommendation of Mike Ruth, a scouting supervisor.

"They wanted me as a pitcher, and I wanted to play pro ball,'' he said.

Funderburk was 22 when the long journey started at Elizabethton (Tenn.) in the Rookie league in the late summer of 2018. He was in Class A ball with mediocre results as a starter in 2019. And then came COVID-19. The minor leagues did not play in 2020, and Funderburk used the long layoff to improve himself as a pitcher.

"I always had pitched up in the zone,'' he said. "I needed some pitches down in the zone. I added a sinker and a different slider. That helped.''

What it did was have Twins manager Rocco Baldelli making this assessment Tuesday when talking about Funderburk's two scoreless innings that gave him a win in Monday's big league debut.

"We have two lefties in the bullpen again,'' Baldelli said. "And what I like is that they're different. Caleb [Thielbar] pitches up there and Kody pitches down here.''

That was accompanied by hand gestures to mimic a rise and a fall of a baseball.

Funderburk started the transition from starter to reliever last summer at Class AA Wichita. It became official this season, when he again started the season at Wichita, then arrived to pitch for the Class AAA St. Paul Saints on April 26.

The Twins' eight-pitcher bullpen has been lefthander-short for most of the season. The team briefly had three lefties — Thielbar, Jovani Moran and Brent Headrick — in late April.

Then, Headrick was optioned, Thielbar went on the injured list for the first of two stretches, and Moran was the lone lefty for a month. That was the case again for four weeks in July when Thielbar was again injured.

Baldelli used Moran in many big situations, with some success but with the always lurking issue: bases on balls.

On Aug. 6, Moran was optioned to St. Paul, Headrick returned for a week, and then Thielbar was the lone full-time bullpen lefty. Until Monday around 3:30 p.m., when Funderburk and his wife, Alicia, were going to use the day off in the Saints' schedule to attend the Minnesota State Fair.

"We had been hearing that it's a huge event in Minnesota,'' Funderburk said.

Not as huge as this for the Funderburks: Saints manager Toby Gardenhire called to say, "Kody, get to Target Field. You're in the big leagues.''

Alicia drove her husband to the ballpark and was the only family member in the stands to see his two perfect innings.

"Great thing about the Saints and Twins being home together, you can get a call three hours before game time and be ready to go,'' he said. "But that doesn't work for family members that are in Arizona.''

Funderburk had an outstanding July in St. Paul, as other relievers (righthanded) received calls to the Twins.

"Getting frustrated isn't going to help anyone,'' he said. "You just have to keep getting out hitters.''

Baldelli said: "I saw Kody in spring training. I saw what he was doing in St. Paul. I asked about him rather consistently. It was a case of finding room on the 40-man roster … and us not wanting to lose other pitchers on waivers.''

He then paused and said: "That problem is taken care of for now. He was great last night. And all managers like to have lefthanded options in a bullpen.''