The White Sox love their college arms. For the second year in a row, they took a kid who could move quickly through the system and help the big league team this season if needed. Last year it was Carlos Rodon, the 6’-2”, 230 pound southpaw with the 80-grade slider and mid-90s fastball. He was selected third overall out of North Carolina State and is now in the starting rotation for the Sox.
Tonight, they grabbed Carson Fulmer, a 5’-11” right-hander out of Vanderbilt with the eighth-overall selection. Regarded as the best arm in the draft by many, Fulmer has is electric and throws a pure gasoline fastball that can touch 98 mph with some silly arm side run to it. He adds a plus slider and a change-up that is still developing but is already a solid offering.
Fulmer was the closer for the ‘Dores his freshman and most of his sophomore year. He was inserted into the rotation halfway through last season and posted a 2.00 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 57 K/28 BB over 63 innings, holding opponents to a .192 BAA. Through 17 starts this spring, he is 13-2 with a 1.82 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 152 K/46 BB over 114 innings. Vanderbilt’s season is still going on and they knocked off Illinois today 4-2 to send them to Omaha and the College World Series.
Aside from his two plus pitches, Fulmer is known for his fierce competitiveness and character. He was considered one of the safest bets in the 2015 MLB draft because, at worst, he should be a dominant closer. He has starter stuff but the track record for starters south of 6’-0″ isn’t very good — although he has no history of any injury and has worked hard on his mechanics since joining the rotation. He makes bats miss better than most, allowing just 173 hits over 257.2 career innings, and he has struck out 298 batters over that span, good for a 10.4 K/9 ratio.
Fulmer is a big-game pitcher who has played on several USA Baseball teams and is the guy you want to hand the ball to when the lights are brightest. A good amount of people think he will end up in the bullpen, but I wouldn’t bet against a kid like him. He is also from Lakeland, Florida — the same city current ace Chris Sale is from. A future rotation of Sale, Rodon and Fulmer could be something special on the Southside.
Feel free to follow me on Twitter @DanMKirby for 2015 MLB draft updates, high school and college news, as well as Chicago Cubs ramblings.