The Chicago White Sox have promoted right-handed pitching prospect Carson Fulmer to the major league roster, just over one year after signing the 2015 first round pick out of Vanderbilt. Let's take a look.
Basics from the 2016 Baseball Prospect Book
Carson Fulmer, RHP, Chicago White Sox
Bats: R Throws: R HT: 6-0 WT: 190 DOB: December 13, 1993
Vanderbilt University ace Carson Fulmer was drafted eighth-overall by the White Sox last spring. He was getting first-overall buzz and has a chance to be the best pitcher drafted in 2015. Stuff-wise, Fulmer features a lively fastball in the 93-97 MPH range. It isn’t straight and ranks as at least a 70-grade pitch. He also has a plus curveball, maybe even double-plus, and a change-up which is average major league quality and might improve further. Fulmer has mound presence in spades and a fearless approach. There are two main concerns: durability and erratic command. Fulmer is quite athletic but he isn’t a big guy and there is some effort in his delivery, leading some experts to project him as a 70-inning-per-year closer rather than a 200-inning starter. The White Sox will apparently give him every chance to start and I agree with that; there’s no real evidence that his injury risk is any higher than typical for his age. The command issue does need to be addressed but even small improvements will take him a long way given the quality of his stuff. Overall, I’m an optimist. Grade B+.
Fulmer has made 17 starts for Double-A Birmingham, with a 4.76 ERA and a 90/51 K/BB in 87 innings. Both his strengths (overpowering stuff) and weaknesses (erratic command) have been on clear display in the minors this year.
Normally you wouldn't expect a Double-A starter with a 4.76 ERA to be promoted to the majors without any intervening Triple-A experience, but the White Sox aren't afraid to push a young pitcher (especially one with high-level college exposure like Fulmer). Grade-wise I still see him as a Grade B+.
Word is that they will deploy him in the bullpen for the time being, which makes sense. I don't think this means he will be an automatic reliever in the long run. Serving a relief apprenticeship for the second half could set up him for a starting job next year or in 2018.
It should be noted that many observers and experts do believe Fulmer is best-suited for relief and maybe they are right, but absent a direct statement from the White Sox to that effect, don't write him off as a starter just yet.