CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Reynaldo Lopez is close to ready. Carson Fulmer has continued to pitch very well. And Lucas Giolito just had his best start of the season.
But when it came time to find a replacement for James Shields, the White Sox turned to veteran Mike Pelfrey at Triple-A Charlotte. Just like he had promised all offseason and spring and reiterated on Friday, White Sox general manager Rick Hahn stayed away from his top prospects to fill the void when Shields was placed on the 10-day disabled list. Pelfrey's contract was purchased on Saturday and he started against the Cleveland Indians. Even though he would have loved it to have his name called once again, Fulmer said he understand what the White Sox are trying to do.
"We know our time is coming soon," Fulmer said. "Hopefully sooner than later, but I think the main thing is they just want to make sure we're ready to stay up there for good instead of moving back down and making that transition back and forth. No, we're good, man."
Fulmer has a 4.24 ERA through three starts, though he didn't get much help from his defense in his second outing on April 12 when he allowed five earned runs at Durham.
But the most important number to look at with the right-hander is the strikeout to walk ratio, which currently stands at 11:3 in 17 innings.
Both he and the White Sox look at it as more proof the 2015 first-rounder is progressing as they hoped he would when he was returned to Charlotte last August. In six starts since, Fulmer has a 2.53 ERA, 25 strikeouts and six walks in 32 innings.
Still, Hahn and the White Sox want to see more from their prospects. They don't want to create a taxi service back and forth from Charlotte. In order to do that, they're slamming on the brakes and focused on player development instead of rushing players to fill voids. Fulmer, who charted pitches during Saturday's game against the Rochester Red Wings, said he's focused on what he's doing instead of looking at the big picture.
"I don't look into too many things," Fulmer said. "Our time is coming. We have to be patient and we have to respect the process."
"I've figured out a lot so far with my delivery, my command has been really, really good. I'm forcing a lot of weak contact, a lot of ground balls and my game has changed a lot. I think I'm pretty close to where I want to be and the process obviously takes a while and you have to respect that. With the guys we have here and the way we push one another I think it's gotten me ready for the next step."