The White Sox are promoting right-hander Carson Fulmer to the Majors today to work out of their bullpen, according to Dave Williams of Barstool Sports (links to Twitter). MLBPipeline.com’s Jesse Burkhart first tweeted that Fulmer was likely heading to the Majors. Fulmer will inherit the 40-man roster spot that was vacated by yesterday’s outright of right-hander Scott Carroll.
The Sox selected Fulmer, 22, out of Vanderbilt with the eighth overall pick in the 2015 draft. He dominated in 23 innings between Chicago’s Rookie League affiliate and Class-A Advanced affiliate in 2015 following the draft, but the 2016 season hasn’t gone quite as smoothly. Fulmer currently has a 4.76 ERA with 90 strikeouts against 51 walks in 87 innings for Chicago’s Double-A affiliate, though he’s pitched considerably better as of late. Over his past seven starts, Fulmer has a 3.51 ERA with a 54-to-17 K/BB ratio in 41 innings, and he’s yielded just two runs in his past 19 innings.
Fulmer entered the season as a consensus Top 100 prospect, and he’s currently 33rd on MLB.com’s Top 100 prospects list and 73rd on Baseball America’s midseason update of its Top 100 prospects. Some pundits at the time of the draft wrote that Fulmer projected as a future reliever, and that’s still a consideration for a number of scouts, though the Sox will presumably give Fulmer a chance to stick in the rotation down the road. Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reference Fulmer’s 93-97 mph fastball in their scouting report (which could play up in a short-relief role) and call his curveball a plus offering as well while noting that his changeup gives him potential for a third plus pitch. Fulmer, however, is slight in frame, as he’s listed at 6’0″ and 195 pounds. ESPN’s Keith Law has written on a number of occasions that Fulmer profiles best at the back of a bullpen due to that lack of size, a high-effort delivery and a lack of command.
Via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune, manager Robin Ventura suggested the possibility of utilizing Fulmer in a relief role last week. “You’re trying to see if a kid can do it, and we did it with Carlos (Rodon) a little bit and Chris (Sale) has done it,” Ventura told the Tribune. “You bring ’em up here and you bring ’em through out of the bullpen and see if you can lighten their load a little bit and then see how they handle it.”
Fulmer’s long-term role with the Sox remains undetermined, but if he’s in the Majors to stay he’ll fall well shy of Super Two status, as the most service time he could accrue in 2016 would be 79 days. He’ll be arbitration eligible following the 2019 season and controllable through the 2022 season if he does not return to the minor leagues from this point forth, though obviously a demotion could further delay his path to arbitration and free agency.