Is that lede a little flowery? Maybe, but Nick Hostetler made it sound like more than a business transaction, anyway:
"If I had one guy to say he's an absolute 80+ makeup guy, it's him," said White Sox assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler of Fulmer. "He battles, competes.
"I would want this kid to start Game 7 of the World Series for me, but also I have two daughters and I hope a guy like that marries one of my daughters. He's that type of terrific kid."
The Sox talked him up in the way they usually talk up their pitchers -- a prince of a guy who throws his pitches with a lot of middle finger action. Here, Fulmer does come with more built-in motivation than most. He was the third pitcher taken overall despite holding titles like "Friday night starter for Vanderbilt," or "Golden Spikes candidate," or "best collegiate pitcher," mostly because of his size and delivery.
On our podcast, White Sox scouting director Doug Laumann said that everybody would prefer a 6-foot-4-inch pitcher, all things being equal. But they seldom are equal, and in this case, it worked to Fulmer's advantage, as the other pitchers remaining lacked stuff on the level of Fulmer's fastball-power curve combination, as well as as the endurance to throw 114 innings with a sub-2.00 ERA over a college season:
"We're going to hear different things about an unconventional delivery, things of that nature, but you can't pass on guys that win and guys that are effective and guys that get people out," said White Sox director of amateur scouting Doug Laumann of Fulmer, who was recommended by White Sox scout Phil Gulley and whose eighth pick is slotted at $3,470,600. "He's got a dynamic pitch. His breaking ball is his strikeout pitch. He's 93-96, 96, carries it late into the game. We're excited to get him."
That curve might not be as laugh-inducing as Carlos Rodon's slider, but college hitters don't really know what to do with it at 81 mph. From his last start against Illinois:
Fulmer sounds fully aware of the general skepticism and says he wants to start, and he's in the right organization for it. Many scouts pegged Chris Sale as a reliever, and there he is posting four consecutive 10-strikeout starts for the first time in White Sox history. Tyler Danish looked like a ROOGY, but he's holding his own in Birmingham at age 20. Carlos Rodon is far more of an industry favorite by comparison, but the Sox took the best collegiate pitcher and plugged him into the rotation less than a year after draft day.
The various templates are there for Fulmer. He just needs to sign, and it might not be his fault if that part is delayed. The Sox will have to wait until Fulmer's Commodores are done with the College World Series. If it goes like it did last year, the Commodores will be playing the very last game.
Laumann said the Sox weren't certain they could land Fulmer, and they needed one team to swerve away from pitchers. The Astros seemed to be that team, as they threw mock drafts off course by selecting high school outfielder Kyle Tucker at No. 5.
If Fulmer, Dillon Tate and Tyler Jay were off the board by the time the Sox' pick rolled around ... well, let's just say the rest of the league wasn't all that eager to select the Sox' rumored collegiate-pitcher backup plans:
- UCLA righty James Kaprielian went to the Yankees at No. 16.
- Vandy righty Walker Buehler landed with the Dodgers at No. 24.
- Missouri State righty Jon Harris lasted all the way until Toronto's pick at No. 29.
Five high school pitchers and two junior college pitchers went before Harris, including two injured guys (Kolby Allard and Brady Aiken). That might hint that any Sox interest was overstated due to mere dot-connecting. Then again, with a draft class this soupy, it's possible that Toronto got a helluva value.
Kyle Funkhouser, an early first-round favorite who fell off the board as the college season wore on, also went to the Dodgers at No. 35.