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Ten days ago, we discussed Carson Fulmer starting his spring off with a couple of dud outings. Poor outfield defense dragged him down in the first, but the second one was all on him and his inability to capitalize on two-strike counts.
At the time, his struggles didn’t warrant an overreaction because one good start could put him back on track. Sure enough, he made progress with a three-inning outing last Friday that featured a couple homers, but allowed him to build up his pitch count and get up and down multiple times. Improvement remained, but it resembled a start the way his others hadn’t.
Five days later, he once again failed to get out of the second inning. The Brewers lit him up for seven runs on five hits (three homers) and three walks. He failed to record a strikeout, but he hit a batter and threw a wild pitch.
His highlight might’ve been getting squeezed by the umpire against Lorenzo Cain in the second inning, based on James Fegan’s report:
There were a couple calls Fulmer really wanted after going 1-2 to Lorenzo Cain in the second inning, but the at-bat ultimately resulted in a crucial two-out walk and preceded a Braun grand slam. A league scout in attendance admitted Fulmer might have gotten squeezed by the umpire, but that same scout also saw no trace that Fulmer was able to execute his pitches, nor repeat his delivery, nor command his fastball. Those are problems that usually keep a pitcher more than a few calls away from having success, and they’ve been present for much of spring.
While there’s a lot of noise in spring training stats, Fulmer’s line only tells one story: 6.2 IP, 18 H, 17 R, 14 ER, 7 HR, 10 BB, 5 K. Rick Renteria says he’s not repeating his delivery, which is the kind of thing that eliminates starting from a potential career path as he enters his third full pro season.
Hector Santiago is on the same schedule as Fulmer, and he’s still outpitching him, even during rougher patches. Santiago started in a minor-league game, allowing three runs on six hits and 2 1/3 innings, but at least he threw strikes (three K’s, no walks).
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In encouraging starting pitching news, Jeff Sullivan watched Lucas Giolito’s start against the Cubs and saw an arm slot that might work better for him.
Giolito’s previous effectiveness was limited by an inability to locate his curveball against MLB hitters. Pitching against the North Siders, Giolito featured a lower arm slot that might reduce the impressive 12-6 drop of his breaking ball, but breaks tightly just the same, and in a manner that’s easier for him to locate.
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- Optioned OF Daniel Palka and INF José Rondón to Class AAA Charlotte;
- Optioned LHP Ian Clarkin and OF Eloy Jiménez to Class AA Birmingham;
- Optioned OF Micker Adolfo and OF Luis Basabe to Class A Winston-Salem;
- Reassigned RHP Dylan Cease and C Zack Collins to minor-league camp.
These assignments to specific camps don’t always stick when Opening Day rolls around, but they’re all appropriate. Jimenez might be overqualified for Birmingham, but he only played 18 games there last season, so they can say they’d like to see a little more in the big park.
A conservative assignment allows the White Sox to play Palka, Charlie Tilson and whichever outfielder loses the bench battle on an everyday basis in Charlotte. If it happens to be Ryan Cordell, those are three players the Sox haven’t seen play in front of them regularly. None of them deserve priority over Jimenez in even the medium term, but there’s value in seeing where their games stand before figuring out which one needs to get out of the way.
It also doesn’t hurt to give Jimenez a second hurdle between the farm and Chicago. One month in Birmingham, one month in Charlotte, and all of a sudden it’s the first week of June, when Super Two concerns can be set aside.