If Carson Fulmer's appearance in the Futures Game was supposed to show us how he might look in the White Sox bullpen, call him up right now.
Fulmer, who has been working as a starter all season in Birmingham, received a shot at relief work against the World prospects in San Diego on Sunday. Judging from this very small sample, he took to the role well. He was tasked with protecting a 3-2 lead for the U.S. in the seventh inning, and he only needed 11 pitches to retire the side:
- Three pitches to Cleveland catching prospect Francisco Mejia, who went down swinging on a changeup.
- Five pitches to Mets infielder Dilson Herrera, who was frozen on a frontdoor breaking ball.
- Three pitches to Mets shortstop Amed Rosario, who grounded out to short.
Fulmer's performance then looked even better after he left the game. The World team took the lead in the eighth inning, then exploded for seven more runs in the ninth to beat the U.S. team, 11-3.
You can watch every Fulmer pitch here, at least for now:
Carson Fulmer's 2 K's in a perfect inning of work. Talk of him being VU's true leader. #VandyBoys @VandyBaseball pic.twitter.com/t69FjmcvK6— BC⚓⬇ (@dbc5361) July 11, 2016
Fulmer drew attention for his fast-forward windup, which is back in full force after trying to slow it down earlier in the season. While Keith Law wasn't the highest on Fulmer entering last year's draft, this is the form he prefers:
Carson Fulmer was throwing 90-94 mph with at least an average change and slider, probably better, and best of all he's back to his Vanderbilt delivery which, while too violent for him to be a starter long term, is how he has had success most of his life as a pitcher. He has been much better for Double-A Birmingham of late; since the start of June, he has punched out 54 batters in 41⅓ innings with a 3.51 ERA, giving up 17 walks and only one home run. That's a vast improvement and a sign that he might be of some help to White Sox later this year if they're still in the hunt.
Fulmer earned rave reviews from Friend of the Podcast Jim Callis, who has always been a fan:
Drafted eighth overall last June and rushed to Double-A to start his first full pro year, Fulmer battled control woes at the beginning of this season. He had no trouble finding the strike zone on Sunday, however, doing so nine times in 11 tries during a perfect seventh inning. He averaged 92 mph with his fastball and recorded strikeouts with his changeup and curveball.
If this performance is indeed a springboard for a leap into the White Sox bullpen, Fulmer says he's ready for it:
"I’m a max-effort guy," Fulmer said. "I do everything I do every time I go out there, and I don’t think that transition will be that big of a difference. It’s the same game. You’re still facing hitters, and I just try to keep the same approach every time I go out there. I don’t think it’ll be a big transition at all if that’s what they decide to do."