White Sox

White Sox in no rush to see if Carson Fulmer can be on fast track

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White Sox in no rush to see if Carson Fulmer can be on fast track

The first directive Carson Fulmer received upon joining the White Sox was to do nothing.

Fulmer, the No. 8 overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, signed with the White Sox on Friday for a slot-value $3,470,600 bonus. The organization thinks the Vanderbilt right-hander has the potential to be put on the major league fast track, but first, they want him to rest up.

In his junior year at Vanderbilt, Fulmer threw 127 2/3 innings (with a 1.83 ERA and 167 strikeouts). The White Sox don’t want to wear out the 21-year-old, who last pitched in the College World Series finals June 22, so they’re going to give him some time off before likely sending him to Arizona to resume baseball activities.

“We'll see how he adapts, there is no rush or no urgency to move quickly,” general manager Rick Hahn said. “He certainly has the talent and the makeup to potentially to move quickly, but at this time it's let's just get him acclimated to pro ball, and adapt accordingly as he proceeds through the system.”

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Carlos Rodon reached Triple-A after being taken third overall in 2014, while Chris Sale rocketed through the White Sox farm system and to the major leagues back in 2010. The White Sox feel Fulmer has the makeup and repertoire — a mid-90’s fastball and plus curveball — to force his way into the 25-man roster discussion.

Fulmer, though, doesn’t plan to focus on the big picture once he starts pitching in the farm system.

“In certain ways you gotta be patient,” Fulmer said. “Obviously the White Sox have a plan, I’m a part of the organization now, I just have to sit back and try to develop as much as I can as a player and just let them control it. All I can go out and do is compete and try to give my team the best chance to win. But in regard to moving up and trying to get through the organization as fast as possible, it’s out of my control and I’m just going to do whatever it takes to help us win.”

Fulmer — who, like Chris Sale, is a native of Lakeland, Fla. — is well aware of the White Sox success developing pitching, which recently has included Sale, Jose Quintana and Carlos Rodon. Not only have all three of those pitchers shown varying levels of effectiveness in their careers, they all reached the major leagues quickly after joining the organization.

[MORE: Fulmer gives back to ACE program after signing with White Sox]

Perhaps Fulmer becomes the next prospect to whiz through the White Sox mind league ranks to U.S. Cellular Field. But for now, the White Sox are going to take his development process slow.

“We're looking long term with this kid,” Hahn said. “Obviously he is an important piece for us for the future. And we're certainly not going to rush him. There is no specific time frame for him to get to the majors. We're just going to respond to his ability.”

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

Lucas Giolito relieved to be able to shed No. 1 pitching prospect label

GLENDALE, AZ — You don’t need a scale to see that Lucas Giolito lost some weight in the offseason. As he walks around Camelback Ranch, he just seems lighter. These pounds were shedded thanks to a certain label that has been detached from his name and his being.

“Lucas Giolito, number-one pitching prospect in baseball” is no more.

“Definitely. Big time relief. I carried that title for a while,” Giolito told NBC Sports Chicago. “It was kind of up and down. I was (ranked) 1 at one point. I dropped. I always paid attention to it a little bit moving through the minor leagues.”

Which for any young hurler is risky business. The “best pitching prospect” designation can mess with a pitcher’s psyche and derail a promising career. Giolito was walking a mental tightrope reading those rankings, but after making it back to the majors last season with the White Sox and succeeding, the moniker that seemed to follow him wherever he went has now vanished.

“Looking back on it, that stuff is pretty cool," Giolito said. "It can pump you up and make you feel good about yourself, but in the end the question is, what are you going to do at the big league level? Can you contribute to a team? I’m glad that I finally have the opportunity to do that and all that other stuff is in the rear view."

This wasn’t the case when the White Sox acquired Giolito from the Washington Nationals in the Adam Eaton trade in December 2016. When he arrived at spring training last year, he was carrying around tons of extra baggage in his brain that was weighing him down. Questions about his ability and makeup weren’t helping as he tried living up to such high expectations.

“Yeah, I’d say especially with the trade coming off 2016 where I didn’t perform well at all that year," Giolito said. "I got traded over to a new organization, I still have this label on me of being a top pitching prospect while I’m going to a new place, I’m trying to impress people but at the same time I had a lot of things off mechanically I was trying to fix. Mentally, I was not in the best place as far as pitching went. It definitely added some extra pressure that I didn’t deal with well for a while."

How bad was it for Giolito? Here are some of the thoughts that were scrambling his brain during spring training and beyond last season.

“I saw I wasn’t throwing as hard. I was like, ’Where did my velocity go?’ Oh, it’s my mechanics. My mechanics are bad. I need to fix those,” Giolito said. “Then I’m trying to make adjustments. Why can’t I make this adjustment? It compounds. It just builds and builds and builds and can weigh on you a ton. I was 22 turning 23 later in the year. I didn’t handle it very well. I put a lot of pressure on myself to fix all these different things about my performance, my pitching and trying to do it all in one go instead of just relaxing and remembering, ‘Hey, what am I here for? Why do I play the game?’”

Still, pitching coach Don Cooper wanted to see what he had in his young prospect. So last February, he scheduled him to make his White Sox debut against the Cubs in front of a packed house in Mesa.

“It was kind of like a challenge," Giolito said. "They fill the stadium over there. I’m like, ‘Alright here we go."

Giolito gave up one run, three hits, walked one and struck out two in two innings against the Cubs that day.

“I pitched OK," he said. "I think I gave up a home run to Addison Russell. At the same time, I remember that game like I was forcing things. I might have pitched okay, but I was forcing the ball over the plate instead of relaxing, trusting and letting it happen which is kind of my mantra now. I’m saying that all the time, just having confidence in yourself and letting it go.”

A conversation in midseason with Charlotte Knights pitching coach Steve McCatty, suggested by Cooper, helped turn Giolito’s season around. The lesson for Giolito: whatever you have on the day you take the mound is what you have. Don’t force what isn’t there.

Fortunately for Giolito he has extra pitches in his arsenal, so if the curveball isn’t working (which it rarely did when he came up to the majors last season) he can go to his change-up, fastball, slider, etc.

It’s all part of the learning process, both on the mound and off it. Setbacks are coming. Giolito has already had his share. More will be on the way.

“You want to set expectations for yourself. You want to try and achieve great goals,” he said. “At the same time, it is a game of failure. There’s so much that you have to learn through experience whether that be success or failure. Especially going through the minor leagues. There’s so much that you have to learn and a lot of it is about development. It’s a crazy ride for sure.”

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Rick Hahn gives an update on the state of the White Sox rebuild

In this episode of the SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Chris Bleck (ESPN 1000) and Scott King (WGN Radio) join David Kaplan on the panel.

Ryan Pace’s offseason begins. Josh Sitton and Jerrell Freeman are gone, but what will he do with Kyle Fuller?

Plus, Rick Hahn joins Kap from Glendale, Ariz., to discuss the state of the White Sox rebuild, how tough it is to keep their best prospects in the minors and why Jose Abreu is so important for his young team?

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: