MESA, Ariz. — Carson Fulmer has made progress on his biggest goal and concurrently put himself on the White Sox map this spring.
The team’s most recent first-round pick delivered his best spring performance to date on Sunday in a 6-2 White Sox victory over the Oakland A’s at Hohokam Stadium. Fulmer struck out four batters in 3 1/3 scoreless innings, his second straight game without yielding a run. He limited Oakland to one hit and walked two in the relief appearance.
The outing is exactly the kind of development the White Sox hoped for from the Vanderbilt product this spring. But Fulmer — who has a 4.15 ERA in 8 1/3 innings pitched — said his main focus has been to get comfortable pitching in the majors.
“I’ve played on a big stage at Vanderbilt,” Fulmer said. “I’ve played in front of some big crowds. But this is different. You’re playing with the best of the best and, for me, the only way I’m going to get better is if I get thrown out there, but more importantly facing those guys and getting comfortable. Obviously, there are some pitching things and a couple things I wanted to tweak and the knowledge that Don Cooper has, I’m definitely going to soak up. But taking everything I’ve done so far and getting out there and facing the best of the best, that’s the only way I’ll get better and surrounding myself with the guys that have the success and knowledge that has gotten them here in the first place.”
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Odds were that Fulmer would have received a fair amount of attention no matter what this spring. Players taken eighth overall in the draft normally do. But the right-hander has opened some eyes on the coaching staff, manager Robin Ventura said. While he almost certainly starts the season in the minors, Fulmer has potentially made himself a viable candidate for open spots later in the season.
“He’s jumped up there pretty high,” Ventura said. “Coop’s excited about what he’s been doing down here, making some adjustments and really putting himself on the radar for a couple of needs that might arise. He could probably fill both of those. Just an impressive young guy and is very mature and is learning very quickly as he goes along.”
Fulmer has worked on adding a cut-fastball and split-changeup to his repertoire. He feels good about working with five pitches instead of three. The right-hander said he already has begun to learn how important it is to command all of his pitches to be successful. But just as important is the impact of seeing how his stuff plays against big league hitters.
“It gives me confidence,” Fulmer said. “When you look at the best pitchers in baseball, the (Chris) Sales, the (Clayton) Kershaws, they have confidence. They know their stuff is good, they can throw it at any time, and they know they can get people out.
“It’s experience at this point. Everybody has a great arm, everybody has electric stuff. But it’s being able to go out and compete and not get unfocused on the little things that get some guys in trouble.”