When their lineup required a boost, the White Sox summoned their second-best prospect, shortstop Tim Anderson, to Chicago in early June. With their pitching staff needing some help a month later, they're calling up their top prospect, right-hander Carson Fulmer.The No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Fulmer has
When their lineup required a boost, the White Sox summoned their second-best prospect, shortstop Tim Anderson, to Chicago in early June. With their pitching staff needing some help a month later, they're calling up their top prospect, right-hander Carson Fulmer.
The No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 Draft, Fulmer has pitched solely as a starter since signing for $3,470,600, but he will break in with the White Sox as a reliever. Fellow college first-round choices Chris Sale and Carlos Rodón did the same when they were rushed to Chicago before later transitioning to the rotation, a path Fulmer is expected to take.
• White Sox call up top prospect Fulmer, activate Morneau
Fulmer has the stuff to succeed in either role. He sits at 93-95 mph and touches 97 as a starter, pairing his well-above-average fastball with a power curveball. Both pitches figure to play up in shorter stints. Fulmer also has an effective changeup, and he used it to strike out Yankees catcher Gary Sánchez while working a perfect inning in Sunday's SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game.
Fulmer will certainly bolster a White Sox bullpen that only has two reliable right-handers, closer David Robertson and top setup man Nate Jones. Chicago's other righty relievers (Matt Albers, Chris Beck, Michael Ynoa) have given up a combined 16 hits in six innings in July.
Leading up to the 2015 Draft, there was a divide in the scouting community as to whether Fulmer was better suited to be a starter or a reliever in the long run. His lack of height at 6 feet and his high-tempo delivery (which leads to bouts of inconsistent control) led some clubs to view him as a bullpen piece, though Chicago definitely drafted him to be a member of its future rotation. Fulmer has shown the ability to maintain his stuff from start to start and deep into games, both in college and pro ball.
Sent to Double-A Birmingham to begin his first full pro season, Fulmer struggled in the first two months. The White Sox had him try to slow down his delivery, and he went 3-5 with a 5.87 ERA in 10 starts with a mediocre 36/34 K/BB ratio in 46 innings.
Fulmer said at the Futures Game that he has reverted to his college mechanics, which has coincided with him looking more like the guy who was the best pitcher on Vanderbilt clubs that won the 2014 College World Series and finished second in '15. In his last seven starts before his promotion, he went 1-4 with a 3.51 ERA and a 54/17 K/BB ratio in 41 innings.
Fulmer's highly competitive makeup draws as many raves as his stuff, so he won't be intimidated in his initial exposure to the big leagues. He's fully capable of locking down the seventh inning for the White Sox as a bridge to Jones and Robertson. But in future years, Fulmer very well could wind up slotting in as their No. 2 starter behind Sale.
*Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter and listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast*.