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MLB Rookie Report: Michael Fulmer, RHP, Detroit Tigers

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Tigers will promote right-handed pitching prospect Michael Fulmer from Triple-A to the majors. He will make his debut in the Show against the Minnesota Twins on Friday night.

Fulmer was originally drafted by the New York Mets in the compensation round of the 2011 draft from high school in Edmond, Oklahoma. He came over to the Tigers as a key prospect in last summer's Yoenis Cespedes trade.

The basics:

Michael Fulmer, RHP, Detroit Tigers
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-3 WT: 200 DOB: March 15, 1993

2012: Grade C+; 2013: Grade B; 2014: Grade C+; 2015: Grade C

Here is what I wrote about him in the 2015 book:

Michael Fulmer’s 2014 season ended early in August with an elbow injury and he had to have surgery to remove a bone spur. When healthy, Fulmer has been clocked in the mid-90s and shows potential with his slider and change-up, but he’s had problems avoiding the doctors, battling knee and shoulder troubles and now the elbow. It appears increasingly likely that Fulmer will wind up in the bullpen. I felt he was a major breakout candidate a couple of years ago and graded him accordingly, but physical problems have gotten in the way. Grade C.

For 2016 I wrote this:

As you can see, Fulmer’s grades have been all over the map but this was a function of health: the underlying talent has never really changed. He’s always thrown hard and generally performed well when healthy. He managed that in 2015, overcoming the elbow issues that ended ’14 early and restoring his stock. He was traded from the Mets to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes deal and is now universally regarded as Detroit’s best prospect. Fulmer took a step forward with his command last summer; both his slider and change-up improved and he added a softer curveball to the mix at times. Four pitches, good command, mound presence, it’s a great package as long as his body holds up. Your guess is as good as mine on that. Grade B.

ADDITIONAL COMMENTARY:

When healthy, Fulmer has a good track record in the minors, posting a career 3.21 ERA in 398 innings with a strong K/BB ratio at 385/130. For Triple-A Toledo this year he stands at 4.11 in 15 innings over three starts, with a 20/5 K/BB mark.

The scouting reports have stayed steady this year: good control of a four-pitch mix, all four pitches at least solid with the harder offerings (fastball, slider) earning plus grades. Fulmer's combination of stuff and command profiles him as a number three starter, perhaps more, but it remains to be seen what kind of workload he can manage.

This recent clip from Milb.com shows Fulmer using the fastball, change-up, and slider to whiff Pirates prospect Gift Ngoepe.


For his debut against the Twins, I suggest observing how well Fulmer integrates his softer pitches with his harder ones, and if he shows any signs of tiring when his pitch count starts to build up.