By Chris Emma–
CHICAGO (670 The Score) — For all the talent a prized prospect boasts, success doesn’t necessarily come easy. Panning out with full potential — or even something close to those projections — requires much more beyond raw abilities.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn knew well the makeup of 2015 first-round pick Carson Fulmer was strong. During a challenging start to Fulmer’s big league career, Hahn realized that the youngster could weather a storm.
Both Fulmer and Hahn described 2017 as a difficult year for Fulmer off the field, though they declined to offer details. Fulmer also struggled on the mound for much of it, going 7-9 with a 5.79 ERA in 25 starts at Triple-A Charlotte.
All that adversity is why there was such a great deal of pride in how Fulmer finished 2017. He ended up in the White Sox rotation, where he strives to be, going 2-0 with a 1.56 ERA in his final four starts in September.
Now, Fulmer has a clear head and is vying for a place in the team’s rotation in 2018.
“I’ve had success as a starter,” Fulmer said. “I want to start. That’s what I want the most. Having that success at the end of the year has given me the confidence to come into this year strong.”
Added Hahn: “His makeup has always been off the charts, so perhaps it’s not a surprise that he weathered that storm now with a high level of confidence because of that.”
Plenty went into Fulmer’s strong finish to the season. A clear mind was certainly a major factor, and there were some mechanical tweaks along the way, too.
Fulmer began to find his form with diligent study of film. He would watch closely to see what helped fostered that success and build from it. Fulmer also relied on his four-seam fastball less in September while putting trust into his sinker, changeup, curveball and cutter.
Fulmer went into this offseason feeling great. He got married in Malibu back in November before beginning to work again on what brought success in September. Before the SoxFest opening ceremonies at the Hilton Chicago on Friday, Fulmer threw a bullpen session to keep from getting rusty and came away pleased.
He’s already looking ahead to reporting for spring training in February.
“I’m feeling really comfortable going into this knowing we have the opportunity to do something special,” Fulmer said. “I definitely want to be a part of that in that position.
“Physically, I’m definitely healthy, and mentally, I’ve had a clear head this year. I’ve had success and want to continue to have success at this level.”
The White Sox are entering the second season of a major organizational rebuild, which unofficially began with the trade of Chris Sale to the Red Sox for Yoan Moncada, Michael Kopech and two others in December 2016. Hahn then continued on with several more big moves that reshaped the farm system into one of baseball’s best.
Fulmer has watched it all unfold since being selected in 2015, with the influx of prospects joining the organization. The White Sox rotation of the future projects to include the likes of Kopech, Carlos Rodon, Lucas Giolito, Reynaldo Lopez, Alec Hansen and more.
Before the arrival of more young arms, Fulmer will get his chance to stick with the White Sox rotation.
“We still view him as part of this going forward,” Hahn said. “Depending how everything lines up come spring, there’s a very good chance he gets the ball every fifth day and shows what he can do in the rotation. And if for whatever reason we decide that’s not the best option, we know he certainly has the ability to help us in various roles out of the pen down the road.
“He’s still a work in progress.”
There was a big smile on Fulmer’s face as he worked through a basement room at the Hilton and met with the White Sox of the future. He sees what this team can be if many of these prospects pan out.
Making the majors and thriving there is no easy task, but you can’t blame Fulmer for his optimism in what could be to come.
“We’re definitely going to grow,” he said. “We definitely see a bright future ahead. We just can’t wait to get on the field and start playing with each other.”