White Sox

Man behind the glasses: How Carson Fulmer will force White Sox hand

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Man behind the glasses: How Carson Fulmer will force White Sox hand

Superman has his cape. Thor has his hammer. Iron Man has his suit.

Carson Fulmer? He has his glasses.

When the White Sox first-round pick from 2015 puts on his glasses before he dashes out to the mound, he transforms from a quiet kid from Lakeland, Fla. to a fiery competitor with a live fastball and an ace mentality.

Fulmer donned the glasses after a stretch band slipped off his foot while stretching before a game his freshman year and hit him in the eye. It didn’t cause any permanent damage to his eye but he keeps them on to protect himself during a game.

“A lot of guys say it's intimidating,” Fulmer said. “I have no intentions of making it like that. I just use it for protection. I've gotten used to it. I kind of like them though.”

[SHOP: Gear up, White Sox fans!]

Fulmer lives for the big moment and thrives when challenged. At Vanderbilt, Fulmer got the start in the Commodores’ biggest game in program history, Game 3 of the 2014 College World Series, and went 5 1/3 innings, giving up just one earned run, three hits and two walks along with five strikeouts against Virginia, a team that won 53 games that year. The win gave Vanderbilt its first men’s national championship ever. In any sport.

In 2015, Fulmer was named SEC Pitcher of the Year and a Golden Spikes Award finalist after going 14-2 with a 1.83 ERA and 167 strikeouts over 127 2/3 innings. Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin gave Fulmer the ball to start Game 1 of the 2015 College World Series, a rematch against Virginia. To nobody’s surprise, Fulmer rose to the occasion. He left to a standing ovation from the Commodore faithful in Omaha after going 7 2/3 innings, giving up just two hits and two walks while striking out eight. And most importantly: no runs.

The right-hander earned the nickname “Filthy Fulmer” during his time in Nashville and garnered some elite praise from Corbin, who has watched pitchers such as David Price and Sonny Gray come through the program.

"As a kid, we just haven't had many like him," Corbin said after Fulmer’s final start. "He's one of the most special kids that we've ever had on our campus. I mean, this kid's, like, a 4.0 student. His last term here, when everything -- the focus -- could be anywhere but on academics, he just does such a good job, like Dansby (Swanson), on centering themselves in the moment and containing whatever they have to do. But he's a special, special competitor, and he'll go down as one of the greatest pitchers to ever pitch at Vanderbilt. I don't want to say the (greatest), because we've had some good ones, but I'll tell you what, he's a special guy."

[ALSO: Fulmer moves up in MLB Pipeline's prospect rankings]

Fulmer, who finished his collegiate career with a 24-3 record in three years, heads to a franchise that has made a habit of moving established college pitchers through the minors quickly.

Chris Sale lasted 10 1/3 innings in the minors before packing his bags for U.S. Cellular Field. Carlos Rodon tossed 34 1/3 innings between Charlotte and Winston-Salem and then became a staple in the White Sox rotation. One national analyst envisions Fulmer getting the call sometime this summer. GM Rick Hahn is already getting questions surrounding Fulmer’s expected arrival time at 35th and Shields.

“The funny thing is that if Carson contributed to us in 2017 that would be an extremely quick developmental path,” Hahn said at SoxFest 2016. “I don't think that's an unreasonable expectation. Given how quickly Chris Sale came along and how quickly Carlos Rodon came along, I think there's this mild thought in the back of some people's heads that perhaps Carson will be on that same path given his talent and given his makeup and the fact that we've seen other guys do it.

“The good ones have a way of forcing that time frame and letting you know when they're ready. Once they do, we'll create the opportunity.”

[RELATED: Sale likes the direction the White Sox are taking]

Fulmer’s path to the majors may be expedited if the Sox see a spot in the bullpen open up. But the team still has a long term goal of making him a big piece of their starting rotation.

"I will not be the one to tell Carson Fulmer he won't start, because he's liable to punch you in the face,” White Sox scouting director Nick Hostetler said.

Sale, another Lakeland native, has been in Fulmer’s ear ever since he got drafted, helping him prepare for his big moment.

“We've actually spent quite a bit of time together,” Sale said. “I was up in Lakeland and he came over to the house a couple weeks ago. We played golf in my hometown. I've been able to spend some time with him and show him the ropes and get him prepared for what he's about to start.”

The question doesn’t seem to be will the six-foot future ace be good, it’s how good will he be. He’s already listed as the No. 38 overall prospect by MLBPipeline.com and is the ninth rated right-hander in all of the minors. With the arm, the makeup and those lethal glasses, Fulmer will force the White Sox hand in 2016.

“They have a plan," Fulmer said. "And I have to respect that. Obviously it's a huge dream of mine to make it to the big leagues. I just got to sit back and be patient with it. Wherever they send me is where they are going to send me.”

MLB The Show: White Sox avoid sweep, walk-off division-leading Twins

MLB The Show: White Sox avoid sweep, walk-off division-leading Twins

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: White Sox def. Twins, 6-5
Record: 29-31, 3rd in A.L. Central (3.5 GB of Twins)

W: Alex Colome (2-1)
L: Trevor May (0-2)

Game summary: Michael Kopech started for the White Sox on Sunday and was met with trouble immediately. Byron Buxton homered off the flame-throwing righty, and two batters later, Jorge Polanco doubled to bring in Max Kepler and make it 2-0 Twins. The trouble continued for Kopech in the second, as Miguel Sano hit a big fly to the left field bleachers.

The Sox bats came alive in the second, when Yasmani Grandal singled to center to bring in two runs, closing the deficit to one. They scored three runs in the next two innings behind the bats of Eloy Jimenez and Jose Abreu, who both singled to drive in runs. Jimenez continues to lead the league in RBIs (58) and also leads the league with 22 home runs.

After Alex Colome blew the save in the ninth with a 5-3 lead, the White Sox were in need of a hero in the bottom of the frame. Grandal came up clutch with an RBI single to score Luis Robert, giving the South Siders a 6-5 win to avoid being swept by the division-leading Twins.

White Sox lineup:

Edwin Encarnacion: 3-5, 2B (.323 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 3-5, 2 RBI (.276 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 1-5 (.260 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 0-3, 2 BB (.256 BA)
Jose Abreu: 3-4, RBI, BB (.306 BA)
Tim Anderson: 1-5 (.296 BA)
Luis Robert: 2-5, 2 2B (.236 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 3-3, 3 RBI, 2 BB (.319 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 1-4 (.243 BA)

Scoring summary:

Top first:

Byron Buxton homered to center field. 1-0 MIN.
Jorge Polanco doubled to right field, Max Kepler scored. 2-0 MIN.

Top second:

Miguel Sano homered to left field. 3-0 MIN.

Bottom second:

Yasmani Grandal singled to center field, Jose Abreu and Luis Robert scored. 3-2 MIN.

Bottom third:

Abreu singled to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 3-3.

Bottom fourth:

Jimenez singled to center field, Grandal and Nomar Mazara scored. 5-3 CHW.

Top ninth:

Eddie Rosario doubled to center field, Mitch Garver scored. 5-4 CHW.
Luis Arraez singled to center field, Rosario scored. 5-5.

Bottom ninth:

Grandal singled to right field, Robert scored. 6-5 CHW.

Notable performance: The White Sox were an offensive juggernaut in May, hitting .301 as a team with 60 home runs and 187 RBIs. They went 17-12 after going 12-19 in the first two months of the season.

Next game: Tuesday, June 2 - Game 61: White Sox at Royals (Lucas Giolito, 3-7, 5.10 ERA vs Brad Keller, 3-5, 4.42 ERA)

MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

MLB The Show: White Sox fall behind big early, drop second straight to Twins

NBC Sports Chicago is simulating the 2020 White Sox season via MLB The Show during the postponement of play. The White Sox, stocked with young talent and veteran offseason acquisitions, were expected to take a big step forward in their rebuild this season. Follow along as we play out the first few months of the season.

Result: Twins def. White Sox 10-4
Record: 28-31, 3rd in A.L. Central (4.0 GB of Twins)

W: Rich Hill (4-4)
L: Reynaldo Lopez (5-2)

Game summary: All good things must come to an end. In the case of the White Sox' winning streak, things have come to an abrupt end. A day after the Twins put up 11 runs in the first two innings, Minnesota jumped on Chicago early again.

Reynaldo Lopez failed to make it out of the fourth inning. The Twins harassed him with singles a plenty, including RBI base knocks from Alex Avila and Miguel Sano in the second and fourth innings. Then, the big blow came from Jorge Polanco, whose grand slam gave Minnesota a 7-1 lead before the final out of the fourth. Lopez' day came to an end. 

Yasmani Grandal hit a pair of solo home runs in the third and fifth. Yoan Moncada added a couple more runs on a late two-run blast but the White Sox dropped their second straight to the Twins to fall four games back of the division leaders.

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White Sox lineup

Edwin Encarnacion: 0-3 (.316 BA)
Eloy Jimenez: 1-4, R (.269 BA)
Yoan Moncada: 2-4, HR (12), 2 RBI, R (.261 BA)
Nick Madrigal: 1-4 (.261 BA)
Jose Abreu: 2-4, 2B (.298 BA)
Tim Anderson: 0-4 (.298 BA)
Luis Robert: 0-4 (.232 BA)
Yasmani Grandal: 3-4, 2 HR (21), 2 RBI, 2 R (.309 BA)
Nomar Mazara: 0-3 (.243 BA)

Scoring summary: 

Top first

Luis Arraez grounded into double play, Byron Buxton scored. 1-0 MIN.

Top second

Alex Avila singled to right field, Josh Donaldson scored. 2-0 MIN.

Bottom third

Yasmani Grandal homered to left field. 2-1 MIN.

Top fourth

Miguel Sano singled to left field, Eddie Rosario scored. 3-1 MIN.
Jorge Polanco homered to right field, Sano, Max Kepler and Avila scored. 7-1 MIN.
Nelson Cruz homered to center field, Arraez scored. 9-1 MIN.

Bottom fifth

Grandal homered to center field. 9-2 MIN.

Bottom sixth

Yoan Moncada homered to center field, Eloy Jimenez scored. 9-4 MIN.

Top eighth

Polanco homered to left field. 10-4 MIN.

Notable performance: With his two homers on Saturday, Grandal now has 21 on the season, which trails only teammate Eloy Jimenez for the team lead. Grandal is third in the AL in RBIs (49) and leads the league in WAR (4.5). Not too shabby for the eight-hole hitter.

Next game: Sunday, May 31 - Game 60: Twins vs White Sox (Devin Smeltzer, 6-2, 2.42 ERA vs Michael Kopech, 0-0, 3.78 ERA)

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