With a steady stream of prospect rankings flanking SoxFest weekend, Carson Fulmer remains conspicuously absent from all discussion, similar to the way he remained conspicuously absent during the round of September call-ups. He was prominently involved in both last season.
It seems too soon for Fulmer to be such an afterthought, given that Carlos Rodon and Tim Anderson were the first-round picks before him, and Zack Collins was the first-round pick after him. All of those players are relevant to the rebuild to varying degrees. Fulmer is much further from the mind.
Scott Merkin didn’t forget him, though. He talked to Fulmer before SoxFest, and from the resulting article, Fulmer still sounds like Fulmer.
“I pitched really well in college to be able to get the opportunity, but I don’t want to just be a first-round pick. I want to be a 10-plus-year veteran pitcher in the big leagues. I won’t stop until that happens.
“Everybody has a little bump in their career. That was the bump for me. I think it’s straight uphill from now.”
The article is a classic late-winter Best Shape of His Life piece, and positions Fulmer as the heir apparent to Gordon Beckham and his Unfortunate Offseason Tradition. There’s a lot of overlap between the two in terms of always being one adjustment away from figuring it all out. Beckham turned so many corners he got vertigo, and now he’s on another minor-league deal with Detroit. Given Fulmer’s steady slide from college ace to struggling starter to a reliever who didn’t immediately unlock devastating stuff upon conversion, it’s easy to extrapolate that path all the way into the ground.
Fulmer’s work with Driveline Baseball distinguishes him from Beckham, at least at this juncture. Rather than being pounds of weight lost or pounds of muscle gained, Fulmer supposedly will be bringing “tremendous jumps in all his stuff when it comes to spin rate and velocity” with him. Searching through past tweets, Driveline founder Kyle Boddy has been a big believer in Fulmer dating back to his Vanderbilt days, so there seems to be more of a connection than a rote emulation of others’ success stories.
The good news is that the White Sox roster looks like it’s moved on from Fulmer. In the rotation, Manny Banuelos has gotten just about all of the fifth-starter pub, with Dylan Covey the reluctant Plan B, but in a way that doesn’t prevent Fulmer from barging back into the picture. In the bullpen, Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colome are veteran righties who complement the phalanx of live-armed lefties, taking some of the stress off last year’s late-season callups.
The good news for Fulmer is that he can easily crash the party. None of the rookies mentioned in that paragraph have locked down a spot, so if he does show up at Camelback Ranch with mph to spare, there will be room to accommodate him without undermining anybody who had leap-frogged ahead of him in 2018.
That’s where he and Beckham differ, or maybe where pitchers and infielders differ. As Beckham bobbled his chances in the majors, other players like Eduardo Escobar and Marcus Semien had to wait their turns. A pitcher can’t block a pitcher in the same way. Even if this is the first of multiple winters where Fulmer tries to convince himself and everybody else with his conviction, everybody will benefit from a better order of circumstances. Fulmer is on the outside looking in, so he’ll only actually get in the way when he makes that big leap with his performance, and everybody will welcome him then.
This is fun because we will know if the velocity indeed took a “tremendous jump” right quick.
We’ll also know whether he can do the thing that’s eluded him so far: throw strikes.
I still believe in Fulmer. Maybe he is not a starter, but a hybrid bullpen arm along the likes of Andrew Miller can be valuable to a team. I can see him as a player that can throw a couple scoreless innings (4-6) when a starter does not have his best stuff or come in as a mid leverage bullpen piece.
I’d rather go downhill than uphill, but that’s me.
Reminds me of the old Bill Cosby (!) bit about having to walk a mile to school every day when he was a kid. Uphill. Both ways!
Drunk History is covering the Black Sox tonight.
That reminded me I still need to see Odenkirk’s Disco Demolition episode
Someone needs to.
Carson Fulmer sure has a lot of burners on White Sox Facebook group pages.
Phalanx. Nice word. Reading Jim is always instructive.
Ironically everybody in a phalanx has to be the same handedness or the whole thing falls apart.
If you believe in nothing, honey, it believes in you.
For God’s sake, don’t waste any faith on me.
It’ll be interesting to see how his move to the pen full-time and his work at Driveline change things for him. While I’m aware of the whole Driveline thing, I haven’t followed it super closely. Has anyone tracked a list of pitchers they’ve helped turn around? I seem to recall Trevor Bauer being attached to their name, but I can’t recall the others.
Ottavino and Buehler, among recent success stories. Tim Lincecum’s comeback, among ones that didn’t pan out.