SEATTLE, WA - JULY 19: Relief pitcher Carson Fulmer #51 of the Chicago White Sox is congratulated by catcher Dioner Navarro #27 after defeating the Seattle Mariners 6-1 at Safeco Field on July 19, 2016 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

Fulmer, first-rounders big part of White Sox’ rebuilding plan

SHARE Fulmer, first-rounders big part of White Sox’ rebuilding plan
SHARE Fulmer, first-rounders big part of White Sox’ rebuilding plan

Much of the focus this winter on the White Sox’ rebuild is on those seven prospects acquired from the Red Sox and Nationals in trades for Chris Sale and Adam Eaton, but keep in mind what they already had in place with first-round picks Zack Collins and Zack Burdi from the 2016 “Zackdraft,” Carson Fulmer (selected eighth overall in 2015) and current major-leaguers Carlos Rodon (third overall in 2014) and Tim Anderson (17th in 2013).

Coupled together, those two groups shape a reasonably strong base for a makeover, with more high-end potential on the way if and when Jose Quintana is traded.

A wild card, if you will, is Fulmer, who possesses four good or plus pitches and whose makeup scouts, coaches and executives gush about, but his struggles with command in the minors and when the Sox brought him up (arguably too soon) last year have made him something of a forgotten man in all the rebuild buzz.

Fulmer, though, believes he figured something out mechanically with the help of Class AAA Charlotte pitching coach Rich Dotson late last season. If so, his mentions could soar once again.

“Career-changing, I think,’’ Fulmer said.

“The ball was flat coming out of my hand with all my pitches. He told me drive my groin toward home plate, made me tall, gave me angle.’’

Fulmer, who made his debut in July by striking out Albert Pujols on three pitches, would return to Class AAA after allowing 11 earned runs and seven walks in 11 2/3 innings.

“He really figured it out with Dot,’’ said Curt Hasler, the Sox’ first-year bullpen coach after six years as minor-league pitching coordinator. “They calmed some things down, he stayed under control and he was able to execute pitch after pitch after pitch. His last four to five outings, and really outstanding the last three to four, he really got it going.

“At the end of the year, he made us go, ‘Whoa, this is what we see in him, this is what we think he can do.”’

The Sox are also bullish on what Collins and right-hander Burdi can do. There’s also 2016 second-round right-hander Alec Hansen, 2014 second-round right-hander Spencer Adams and 2015 fifth-round right-hander Jordan Stephens to keep an eye on.

Collins, a left-handed-hitting catcher with power who dropped from No. 1 to middle of the top 10 in most rankings of the Sox’ prospects after the two big trades, will try to prove his mettle defensively starting in high Class A or AA. The Sox insist he will. Scouting director Nick Hostetler said Saturday that he would have picked Collins, who was taken 10th, first overall.

Burdi hit 102 mph at Class A Winston-Salem last year, and with a wipeout slider, he projects as a closer. Thought by some to be called up within months of being drafted last season, his time might come this year.

The same might be said for right-hander Lucas Giolito, acquired in the Eaton trade, who had big-league experience last season but struggled. The 6-6, 255-pound 2012 first-round pick is now rated as the Sox’ top pitching prospect.

Fulmer, meanwhile, figures to open the season at Class AAA, but if he picks up where he left off late last season, he could be close to another call-up.

Fulmer looked around the room at SoxFest and saw plenty of young, raw talent. In a sense, he’s just “one of the boys” with high upside, untapped potential that’s unproven at the major-league level.

“Oh, my gosh,’’ Fulmer said. “I know Burdi from college, I know Lucas from high school and I’m getting to know [Michael] Kopech. This is what we need, young guys who are going to develop over time. We’re right where we need to be. We have a special thing going on here.’’

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