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2015 MLB Draft: should Carson Fulmer be a starter or reliever?

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Carson Fulmer
Carson Fulmer
Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Every spring as the MLB June draft approaches, rumors surface matching certain teams with certain players, particularly at the top of the draft. However, the relatively thin nature of the 2015 class has led to wide variation in such rumors this year. "Nobody is sure what will happen" is the bottom line at this point. There is little consensus beyond the top few players and teams are more likely to have very different draft preference lists this year.

Carson Fulmer of Vanderbilt is a good example of how even the best players this year lead to mixed opinions. Some rumors have Fulmer going as early as number seven to the Red Sox. However, it isn't a slam dunk that he will still be available. . .someone could pull the trigger sooner. And it can't be assumed that the Red Sox will pick him even if he is available, as they also have a long-standing interest in LSU's Alex Bregman. Heck, it is possible that both of them could be off the board at number seven. . .or both could still be available. Things are in flux that much.

Fulmer's numbers are ridiculous: he is 8-1 in 11 starts for the Commodores, with a 1.52 ERA and a spectacular 101/28 K/BB with only 45 hits allowed in 71 innings. The talent is obviously first-class, 92-96 MPH with movement, strong curveball, solid change-up, strong command, great mound presence. There are two issues with Fulmer: his size and his delivery.

If he were 6-3, 200 pounds, Fulmer would be in contention for the number one pick. Alas, Fulmer is listed at 6-0, 190, less than stereotypical size for a starting pitcher. That said, many teams are less paranoid about "short" right-handed pitchers than they used to be. He is clearly a fine overall athlete with a live body and personally I don't think the size "issue" matters in this case.

What about the delivery? Here are a couple of views, first from beyond home plate from Moorebaseball.com:

Here's a look from the center field camera:

And another behind-home-plate view, from a slightly different angle.

Some observers who understand pitching mechanics much better than I do say that Fulmer's delivery isn't perfect and has enough red flags to move Fulmer to the bullpen. And obviously a guy who projects as a reliever, even a first-class closer, is not going to go quite as early in the draft as someone who is certain to remain a starter.

But looking at these videos (and others, there are many available on youtube), I don't see what the big deal is. Yeah, he pitches with more effort than your typical 6-4, 220 pound specimen, but nothing here strikes me as "his elbow will explode soon" or "his shoulder will shred." Certainly there are successful major league pitchers with funkier or more stressful deliveries than Fulmer's. But as stated, that is not my area of expertise.

In general I agree with what Kiley McDaniel wrote last week for Fangraphs:

I’m the high guy on Fulmer, but I think teams are coming around on him. There’s some effort to the delivery, but he’s never been hurt, goes deep in games, has succeeded hugely as a starter and reliever at the highest amateur levels, is hyper-aggressive and strong-bodied. . .. If I’m betting on someone in this draft class to succeed more than the industry consensus, I’m rolling with the dude that’s never failed before, that’s never been hurt before, that has has plus stuff and that has performed everywhere, delivery and height be damned.

That seems eminently reasonable to me.

What do you guys think of Fulmer? What do you see in the delivery? Would you have him start, and where does he rank on your draft lists?