GLENDALE, Ariz. — Saturday night is probably Carson Fulmer’s final spring start. If this is how it ends, with the White Sox top pitching prospect sent back to the minors for a final touch of seasoning, then consider his spring training a rousing success.
He’s learned a new pitch, found confidence and felt like he belonged in the White Sox clubhouse — all in his first pro camp.
“I’ve learned so much,” he said Friday.
The eighth overall pick last year, Fulmer might already own the team’s best curveball. Now he’s learned a cut fastball; after tinkering with different grips earlier in camp, he threw the cutter for the first time in a game Sunday.
“I’m feeling more and more comfortable each day that I throw it,” the 22-year-old said. “And I feel like it’s going to be a pitch that I can utilize pretty much every outing.”
It looks like a fastball, with late movement away from right-handed hitters.
“I pitch off my fastball — and good pitchers have to have fastball command, they have to be able to get people out with their fastballs,” he said. “That’s a pitch that seems just like a fastball right out of the hand. And you get that late movement and you can get a lot of quick outs with that.”
He got a lot of those last year, posting a 2.05 ERA in eight starts with Class A Winston Salem. He’s likely ticketed for Class AA Birmingham in his first full season as a professional.
‘I’m feeling very comfortable with all my pitches,” he said. “And I feel like the more times I get on the mound, the more times I face these caliber of hitters, that’s where I’m going to grow.”
The Vanderbilt alum is the latest in a line of White Sox college-cultivated stud hurlers, joining Chris Sale and Carlos Rodon. The White Sox hope he gained more experience by spending time in big-league camp.
“Coming from a big school and the notoriety, he’s a very humble kid, very focused, mature, smart,” manager Robin Ventura said. “He’s showing all of that and has some talent. He’s an impressive guy to get.”
The key, catcher Alex Avila said, is being able to manage the game properly. College pitchers tend to use max effort.
“You really have to learn how to pace yourself,” he said.
Fulmer admitted to being “a little uncomfortable” at the start of camp, unsure of whether he belonged, before having some success against big-league hitters.
“The biggest thing you have to take out of the whole thing and the right mindset you’ve got to have is, you’ve got to learn from the guys that had so much success and some experience in the clubhouse and on the field,” he said.
“I feel like I get better each day I’m here at the field. And it’s a great opportunity to help advance my skills and mindsets each and every day.”
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