The White Sox believe Vanderbilt pitcher Carson Fulmer’s curveball is special and his makeup is off the charts.
For a brief instant on Monday evening, they believed their chances of drafting him were fading fast. But when the Houston Astros used the fifth pick to draft outfielder prep outfielder Kyle Tucker, the White Sox knew they’d get their man.
Fifteen minutes later, the White Sox selected Fulmer, the highest-rated pitcher on their board, with the eighth overall pick of the amateur draft. Fulmer, who is 13-2 with a 1.82 ERA and 152 strikeouts in 114 innings this season for the Commodores, turns 22 in December and could be quick to the majors.
“If somebody could do it in terms of makeup and type of stuff, he’s capable,” scouting director Doug Laumann said. “We needed maybe one thing good to happen for us to get him to us, and it happened.
“This was certainly a guy we had targeted for a long time, and he was the guy we wanted to get.”
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One reason the White Sox are high on Fulmer’s stock is the 6-foot-1, 200-pounder has dominated the college level and wants to prove he belongs in the majors.
Not only did Fulmer help Vanderbilt win the College World Series last year, his Sunday win over Illinois in the Super Regional coupled with a Monday victory has the defending champs back to defend their title.
Pitching in the SEC, which could feature five of the eight CWS teams, Fulmer finished first in wins, ERA and strikeouts. He’s 23-3 overall in college and has 298 strikeouts in 258 innings.
Though others see him as a closer, Fulmer believes his future lies in the rotation.
“I definitely want to start,” Fulmer told MLB Network. “It’s something I wanted to do for a very long time.
“That’s something I had to go out and prove. But I just want to get up there and help the organization any way possible.”
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For just a bit Monday, it looked as if that organization might be the Boston Red Sox, who ended up selecting Arkansas outfielder Andrew Benintendi with the seventh pick. Speculation suggested Houston might take Benintendi fifth overall, which would have left Tyler Jay for the Minnesota Twins at No. 6 and sent Fulmer to Boston.
“There was a tense moment or two for us along the way thinking that maybe it wouldn’t happen, but it did,” Laumann said. “You’re faced with you only can pick who’s there.”
Instead the White Sox ended up with a player whom both Laumann and assistant scouting director Nick Hostetler are very familiar.
“I don’t know if in my 16 years I’ve seen a better makeup kid, both on and off the field,” Hostetler said. “He’s pretty special.
“Curve ball is special. It’s a true strikeout pitch. He throws it. It’s got depth to it. Swing and miss pitch. A guy that can throw that pitch for a strike is going to get a lot of hitters out at any level.”
“For us he was the best college guy in the draft.”