GLENDALE, Ariz. — Barring a last-minute trade, White Sox starting rotation is basically set with Jose Quintana, Carlos Rodon, Miguel Gonzalez, James Shields and Derek Holland.
So it comes as no surprise that 2015 first-round right-hander Carson Fulmer will open the season at AAA Charlotte. Fulmer was called up during the season last year to pitch in relief, and it didn’t go well (11 earned runs over 11 2/3 innings). The Sox want to stretch him out as a starter, and barring a deal, there’s no room to wiggle in the rotation.
Besides, Fulmer probably needs an extended period of time facing minor league hitters after he found success late last season in Charlotte after tweaking his delivery.
“He’s commanding the zone a little better,” manager Rick Renteria said. “There’s a significant change between his first spring last year and this year. A huge difference. Slowed his delivery down, his windup and he’s able to command the zone better. Mixes his pitches well.”
Opening Day is 20 days away. Prospects Lucas Giolito and Reynaldo Lopez, who, like Fulmer got a taste of the majors last season, will also start the year at Charlotte. He will likely return to the majors at some point this year, but the Sox say they aren’t rushing anyone.
“He still has to get some work done,” Renteria said. “With the guys in camp, probably puts him starting off in the minor leagues. That’s just speculative on my part. We still have thee weeks left in camp.”
Fulmer, 23, is the Sox’ No. 5 ranked prospect according to MLBpipeline.com. His spring ERA climbed to 5.91 after he allowed four runs on seven hits in his start against the Indians Monday. But he was typically positive afterward.
“All in all, I thought it was a really good outing,” Fulmer said. “I was able to have a quick first [1-2-3] inning, which I think is the most important inning of the game. I felt like I threw a ton of strikes. Walks weren’t an issue.
“I got a couple swings and misses on my changeup. I was able to throw my breaking ball for strikes, and I had a couple two-seamers looking.”
Chicago White Sox's Carson Fulmer throws during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Los Angeles Dodgers Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)