White Sox

White Sox select Vandy RHP Carson Fulmer with eighth pick

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White Sox select Vandy RHP Carson Fulmer with eighth pick

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.”

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

Luis Robert leaves Arizona Fall League game with injury

White Sox prospect Luis Robert headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more playing time after injuries limited to 50 games in 2018.

He just got hurt in the Arizona Fall League.

Robert is playing with the Glendale Desert Dogs in the AFL and left Friday's game with an injury.

It's not clear what the injury was, but Robert walked off on his own power. He also has pulled out of the Bowman Hitting Challenge (a modified home run derby) that will take place Saturday.

Robert, the No. 4 White Sox prospect and No. 44 overall prospect according to MLB Pipeline, was 1-for-3 in Friday's game before exiting. He has hit safely in all four games in the AFL, going 5-for-17 (.294) with a walk and three strikeouts, but no extra base hits.

The 21-year-old is the third youngest player on the team and the AFL is a respected offseason league for prospects. A good showing from Robert would be a sign that he is beginning to develop his talent into playable tools.

The injury could be minor so no need to ring the alarm bells yet, but the AFL season is barely more than a month long. Even a short-term injury could prevent him from making up for some of the lost playing time from the 2018 minor league season.

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

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USA TODAY

Sonny Gray is available: Could he be a one-year stopgap for the White Sox?

The White Sox have a hole or two to plug in their starting rotation. Could Sonny Gray be an answer?

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said Friday that he's looking to trade Gray away from the Bronx this winter.

Gray isn't as attractive an add as he was a few years back, when he was coming off a sensational 2015 campaign that saw him post a 2.73 ERA and log 208 innings. He went to the All-Star Game and finished third in the AL Cy Young vote that year.

Since, he's been less successful. He made just 22 starts with the Oakland Athletics in 2016 and had a 5.69 ERA. The following season, he started with a strong 3.43 ERA in 16 starts for the A's before the midseason trade that sent him to the Yankees, where he made 11 starts with a 3.72 ERA. This season didn't go too well, earning Gray a move to the bullpen. He finished with a 4.90 ERA in 30 games, only 23 of those being starts. He threw just 29.1 innings over his final 10 appearances of the season, three of which were starts. He had a 5.26 ERA with 50 walks in 113 innings as a starter in 2018.

Those numbers won't leap off the page (in a positive way) for anyone, but there's no doubt that a potential deal for Gray would be a low-risk move for the White Sox. For a team looking to add 40 percent of a starting rotation, being able to do so cheaply — be it from a dollar or prospect standpoint — would be a good thing, especially if the strategy ends up being to simply add one-year fill-ins while Michael Kopech recovers from Tommy John surgery and Dylan Cease makes his way to the major leagues.

However, Gray's 57-walk total from the 2018 season could be something the White Sox would want to stay away from. After all, White Sox pitchers led the AL with 653 walks this season. They also had five of the top 21 walk-issuing pitchers in the Junior Circuit: Lucas Giolito led the league with 90, James Shields was third with 78, Reynaldo Lopez was fifth with 75, Hector Santiago was 15th with 60, and Carlos Rodon was 21st with 55. Gray slotted in right ahead of Rodon.

But Gray has obviously produced results in the past, and whether the White Sox are looking to simply plug the holes in the 2019 staff or potentially find a sign-and-flip candidate for the 2019 trade deadline — he's slated to hit free agency after the 2019 season — Gray could fit that bill. One thing's for sure: He's available.